The Evolution of the Holiday Card

  • December 05, 2012
  • Jenna Maxwell

At my house and undoubtedly at yours, too, Christmas cards have begun to trickle into the mailbox.  It’s tradition; holiday cards have long been sent amongst friends and family during the Christmas season.  It’s a nice way of staying in touch with those that we don’t see very often, plus sending a little love at the holidays is always a nice touch, right?  Besides, we all have so much extra time on our hands this time of the year, right?  I mean, sitting down and penning a note to every single person on our Christmas card list is fun…isn’t it? Okay, so maybe some of us don’t enjoy this time-honored tradition as much as others do. It’s not that I am a humbug or a Grinch by any means; I just have gotten so used to modern forms of communication like email and texting that the ancient art of letter writing has all but been lost on me.  I think this is true of a lot of folks as the old fashioned Christmas card just really ain’t what it used to be.  Like a lot of things in our modern world, the traditional Christmas card has evolved. Back in around 1843 England, communication was obviously not as instantaneous and simple as it is in our world today.  Necessity being the mother of most invention, at this time a Christmas card was needed by a man named Sir Henry Cole. Sir Henry had so many Christmas greetings that he needed to send out that he simply did not have the time to write an individual letter to each and every person he wanted to communicate with.  Feeling a great need to reach out to these people during the holidays, Sir Henry commissioned an artist named John Halcott Horsley to design the first known Christmas card.  The card was designed to illustrate feeding and clothing the poor, as it was Sir Henry’s most sincere wish to remind his associates to help the most needy and destitute, especially during the Christmas giving season.  A card depicting one happy family embracing another was created.  The traditional message stating “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You” was imprinted on the card, a timely message that has stuck with us for nearly 170 years. For the next 30 years or so, anyone who wanted to buy a ready-made printed Christmas card needed to buy it in England, as they weren’t being made here in the states until about 1881. Nowadays, the Christmas card has really come full circle.  Yes, you can still buy traditionally styled Christmas cards with an old fashioned, classic greeting inside.  Nowadays however, many of us opt to send a family photo card instead; which often gives families the opportunity to put a little of their own personality into the greeting card itself.  It’s true what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words; including a photo with a greeting card is a quick and easy way to get a holiday message across without having to write out a long letter. It’s not too late to deck your entire family out to make your holiday photo really unique, special and very festive!  Dressing in fun and whimsical Christmas costumes or even adding some nifty holiday accessories like Santa style caps is an easy way to add some seasonal spice to your family’s Christmas card photo.  We have all sorts of fun and festive holiday looks for you to choose from, starting with Jolly ol’ Saint Nick himself as well as a whole cast of other holiday characters, including Elves, all sorts of Santa’s Helpers and lots of other festive members of the Christmas crew! Your Christmas card just got taken to a new level of very merry fun, just by stepping into a holiday character that is bound to bring Christmas cheer to everyone on your holiday card list.  Don’t forget to dress up your beloved pet for the photo!  He’s part of the family, too!  Now smile and say…Merry Christmas!