The Christmas Card Tradition

Christmas Cards - a Tradition's History

Greeting cards are a common form of fast communication and well wishes. A bit of art, a thoughtful or funny message, and a signature, and one is made. The question here is how they came about, and why.

Cards, being a simple and efficient form of communication, have appeared again and again throughout history. There is evidence that ancient Romans exchanged cards of some form for their New Year’s celebrations. Before any form of mass production or printing, these cards would persist, in scroll, woodcut, and handmade paper forms.

The precursor to the modern card style came during the Victorian period. Writing elegant letters was a time consuming, but important social skill of the time. Particularly during Christmas, schoolboys were taught to compose Christmas works for their families and teachers.

However things would change in the mid-1800s, with the advent of printing technologies. The ability to mass produce ideas and written works In fact, the first known Christmas card was made in 1843, by John Callcott Horsley. A drawing of a family celebrating Christmas dinner with side photos of charity, it was a popular product.

From that time on, cards evolved into multiple forms. There were many trends towards homemade cards at different times, but the manufactured options were always there and appealing. Hallmark, one of the biggest makers of greeting and holiday cards, was founded in 1915, setting the standard for all other cards.

Sales figures indicate that 1.6 billion Christmas cards will be bought and sent in the United States each year, making up around a quarter of the total greeting card annual sales. People use cards, manufactured and self-made, to communicate with far away family and friends, to learn about the going ons of others, and to inject a bit of happiness into another’s holiday, just by showing that they were thought of.

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