Exploring the origin of holiday greeting cards
People have been sending Christmas cards since 1843 when John Callcott Horsley illustrated the first collection. Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed in London and sold that year for a shilling a piece. In 1875 Louis Prang became the first printer to offer cards in America.
Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favoring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs to remind you of spring. The designs continually evolved with changing tastes. The World Wars brought cards with patriotic themes. Quirky illustrated studio cards with sometimes risque humor caught on in the 1950s. Currently there are a wide range of preferences. Nostalgic, sentimental, and religious images continue in popularity, and reproductions of Victorian and Edwardian cards are easy to obtain if you’re feeling a bit historic.
More fun Christmas facts from around the globe
- The name Santa Claus originated from the Dutch word Sinterklaas which means Saint Nicholas.The poem “The Night Before Christmas”, published anonymously in 1823, is generally credited for creating the modern day idea of Santa Claus.
- The song “Jingle Bells” was copyrighted in 1857. “Deck The Halls” is even older – from the late 18th century.
- The practice of Christmas gift giving was once banned by the Catholic Church.
- The custom of decorating a Christmas tree has been traced back to the 15th century.
- The tallest tree placed in Rockefeller Center was a 100 foot Norway spruce from Connecticut in 1999.
- The most expensive Christmas tree was decorated in the United Arab Emirates in 2010 at an estimated cost of over $11 million.