Christmas Cards: A Long and Lovely Tradition

We've all known the joy of opening the mailbox and finding a Christmas card waiting for us.  Just knowing that someone that you care about is thinking about you, and wishing you well during the holiday season can really brighten your day.

But, have you ever wondered how the tradition of sending greeting cards during Christmas got started?

It turns out that the very first Christmas card was sent in the UK, way back in the year 1843 by Sir Henry Cole to one of his close friends (and artist) John Horsley.

Sir Cole worked for the British government, and was very interested in learning how ordinary citizens could make better use out of the mail system.  He and his artist friend, John, got together and created the first Christmas card, which showed people caring for the poor, and a family enjoying Christmas Dinner.

The first Christmas Card, sent by Sir Henry Cole

Christmas Cards first appeared in America in the late 1840s, but most people couldn't afford them, as the printing process was so involved and expensive.

Then, in 1875, Louis Prang, a German printer, started mass producing cards so more people could afford to buy them, and in 1915, John C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hallmark Cards, which really got the Christmas card ball rolling!


Nowadays, cards come in all shapes and sizes, and in all sorts of designs: funny, traditional (think Santa and his reindeer) or religious scenes celebrating the reason for the season.  There are even hipster Christmas cards now, for the not-quite-so traditional members of your circle.

Over the years, sending Christmas greetings cards to family and friends has become a much loved holiday tradition.

In fact, it has become such an ingrained part of American Christmas, that is on of the few holiday traditions that has withstood the test of time.  There are 1.6 billion Christmas cards purchased each year in the U.S. alone.

So what do you do with all of those cards?  There are quite a few creative (and fun!) ways to display your Christmas card collection each year.


You can add an extra, smaller Christmas tree for the season and use it to display only the holiday greeting cards that you receive from family and friends.  This is an especially fun idea for children, as they can feel like they have their own special tree for the holidays.

Another display option for your annual Christmas cards is to string a "clothesline garland" of faux cranberry sprigs, and attach your holiday cards with lengths of yarn and keychain rings.  This option is simple, cheap and can be used in homes with limited display room.  Not to mention, it's quite festive!

A more contemporary and stylish choice is a Christmas card wreath, made with clothespins.  This display option can be used on doors, or can be laid flat and made into a lovely candle holder and centerpiece for a holiday dinner.

With all of these fun and festive display options for Christmas cards, it's easy to see why they remain such a cherished tradition, and one of the few pieces of mail that people still take the time to send the old-fashioned way, as it really brightens the day of those receiving them and puts some extra joy into the holiday season!

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