Α card with Christmas wishes

A Christmas card will be another gift to all the friends of Eat Dessert First Greece -the Christmas recipes that will follow will be the rest. Most cards today may be digital, but paper cards have a long history in both Europe and America. As you suspect our new Christmas article will be about Christmas cards and their history, along with a gift card that you can send online or print and give to your loved ones (you will find it at the end of the article).

Rupert got his own card…

As we learned the first object that could be considered a card was given to King James I of England in 1611. Its dimensions were 84 cm x 60 cm and it was folded. In the center was a rose and in and around it were written wishes for the king and his son. It also contained four poems and a song. Somewhat more exuberant than today’s greeting cards…

King James I of England (source)

We owe the habit of sending Christmas cards to the British Sir Henry Cole, a devoted civil servant, as we have read. Cole managed to reduce the cost of the mail, which until then was very high. But he had to persuade all sections of society to use the post office to fund the change.

Sir Henry Cole, British civil servant and inventor (source)

At that time in Victorian England there were many events, parties and charities for Christmas. One of the habits was to write a long letter and visit acquaintances and friends to wish them happy holidays. This was exhausting even for the most social types of people. To address this, as well as to encourage the use of mail, Cole found the solution on the Christmas card.

The post office until 1840 was the prerogative of the rich. With the expansion of the railway network, a much larger volume of envelopes could be transported than with the horse-drawn carriage they had used until then. So the cost of sending a letter or a card dropped and mail began to be widely used by ordinary people.

So in 1843 Cole ordered 1000 Christmas cards from Mr. John Calcott Horsley. The first card was made with the technique of lithography and depicted in the center a meal -for which there were reactions, since it showed children drinking wine. On both sides the card depicted charity scenes.

The first Christmas card (source)

The second Christmas card was designed and shipped in 1848 by William Maw Egley. It depicted Christmas activities and charities.

The second Christmas card (source)

In the 1850s Christmas cards were very popular, although printers considered it a fad that would pass and did not spend much time in search of innovative designs. However, by 1860 Christmas cards had become one of the main means of communication with relatives, friends and acquaintances throughout the year.

We also found some weird Christmas cards with bizzare and scary pictures, partly because people had nothing to rely on. Santa Claus had not yet been commercialized. An example is cards with dead birds, which symbolized the poor who would probably die in the winter cold or in winter in general.

Strange Victorian Christmas cards (source)

We also read that by 1880 sending Christmas cards had become a habit in America as well. The industrialization and decline of the family farm resulted in the relatives being dispersed geographically. Then women took on the role of maintaining relationships and Christmas cards were a good opportunity.

As the popularity of Christmas cards grew, so did the demand. German immigrant Louis Prang produced beautiful cards at reasonable prices for the mass market. That is why he is often referred to as the father of the American Christmas card.

Louis Prang, father of the American Christmas card (source)

In fact, as we read, in 1881 he organized a card design competition in which the participants were almost 800. The jury consisted of art critics, artists and architects, and the awards were given after a public vote. The winners displayed their cards in galleries in Boston and New York, which raised their artistic value. Christmas cards were small treasures that people shared, kept and collected.

The second prize from the 1881 competition (source)

Predictions were that the American public would quickly get bored of Christmas cards. However, at the beginning of the 20th century technological developments in card reproduction have led to an increase in the popularity of cards, which have been enriched with sports scenes, landscapes and patriotic images. By 1920, the card industry employed more than 5,000 American workers in 40 factories. Despite the accusations of commercializing the holidays, the public maintained a love for Christmas cards.

It is important to emphasize that the Christmas cards had artistic value. In 1930, the New York Public Library organized a Christmas card exhibition to highlight the various techniques used by American artists.

The custom of sending Christmas cards was strengthened thanks to its charitable dimension. Until 1940, various non-profit organizations such as UNICEF raised money from the sale of cards. The first UNICEF Christmas card was issued in 1949 and consisted of a painting of a seven-year-old girl from Czechoslovakia, whose village had received food and medicine from UNICEF during World War II.

The first UNICEF Christmas card (source)

With the technological developments of the 20th century, the popularity of the cards remained at its peak. New printing methods have made it possible to mass-produce personalized cards with family names, photos and news. Photo cards existed since 1911. Also, artists like Salvador Dali and Norman Rockwell made their own unique cards.

Santa Claus with drawers, Salvador Dali, 1948 (source)

In the 1960s personalized cards with personal wishes and names became the norm. At that time color photography became commercially available and the cards were accompanied by family photos. In the 80’s the cards followed the fashion with metallic and glitter elements, with predominant colors red, gold and bronze.

Vintage card from the 1980s (source)

Nowadays, in the age of social media, Christmas cards are no longer the basic way to maintain relationships with friends and acquaintances. But they continue to be a nice gift with wishes for the holidays, to decorate our homes. That’s why we made a gift card to all our friends and readers along with our warmest wishes for holidays with health and happiness. You can download it and send it electronically or print it and offer it to your loved ones.

With our Christmas card we will close this article and with a wish, Christ be born in our hearts! Happy holiday preparations everyone!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. καλά Χριστούγεννα ♥


    1. Καλά Χριστούγεννα φίλη Ασπασία, με υγεία και χαρά! 🙏❣️❣️

      Liked by 1 person

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