DO YOU STILL WRITE HOLIDAY CARDS OR LIKE THE
POST MASTER, ARE THEY BECOMING OBSOLETE?
The history of the “Christmas Card” is an interesting one. Like so many other traditions, they hail from lands far far away. The first Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on the 1st of May 1843. The central picture showed three generations of a family raising a toast to the card’s recipient: on either side were scenes of charity, with food and clothing being given to the poor. What a novel idea… giving rather than receiving, helping rather than taking, charity and goodness in hearts and hands.
At Christmas 1873, a firm, Prang and Mayer, producing lithographs began creating greeting cards for the popular market in England and began selling the Christmas card in America in 1874, thus became the first printer to offer cards in America.
“Official” Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria in the 1840s. The British royal family’s cards are generally portraits reflecting significant personal events of the year. In 1953, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first official White House card. The cards usually depict White House scenes as rendered by prominent American artists. The number of recipients has snowballed over the decades, from just 2,000 in 1961 to 1.4 million in 2005.
Many organizations produce special Christmas cards as a fund-raising tool. The most famous of these enterprises is probably the UNICEF Christmas card program, launched in 1949, which selects artwork from internationally known artists for card reproduction.
Since the 19th century, many families and individuals have chosen to make their own Christmas cards, either in response to monetary necessity, as an artistic endeavor, or in order to avoid the commercialism associated with Christmas cards. With a higher preference of handmade gifts during the 19th century over purchased or commercial items, homemade cards carried high sentimental value as gifts alone. Many families make the creation of Christmas cards a family endeavor and part of the seasonal festivity, along with stirring the Christmas cake and decorating the tree. Over the years such cards have been produced in every type of paint and crayon, in collage and in simple printing techniques such as potato-cuts. A revival of interest in paper crafts, particularly scrap~booking, has raised the status of the homemade card and made available an array of tools for stamping, punching and cutting.
Many people send cards to both close friends and distant acquaintances, potentially making the sending of cards a multi-hour chore in addressing scores or even hundreds of envelopes. The greeting in the card can be personalized but brief, or may include a summary of the year’s news. The extreme of this is the Christmas letter. Because cards are usually exchanged year after year, the phrase “to be off someone’s Christmas card list” is used to indicate a falling out between friends or public figures.
Some people take the annual mass mailing of cards as an opportunity to update those they know with the year’s events, and include the so-called “Christmas letter” reporting on the family’s doings, sometimes running to multiple printed pages. While a practical notion, Christmas letters meet with a mixed reception; recipients may take it as boring minutiae, bragging, or a combination of the two, whereas other people appreciate Christmas letters as more personal than mass-produced cards with a generic missive and an opportunity to “catch up” with the lives of family and friends who are rarely seen or communicated with. Since the letter will be received by both close and distant relatives, there is also the potential for the family members to object to how they are presented to others; an entire episode of Everybody Loves Raymond was built around conflict over the content of just such a letter.
In today’s modern age, with Face Book and Twitter and all of the other zillions of ways to be in contact with all of the people on earth, on a daily basis, don’t they already know all about the year you’ve had?
But still, everyone loves to get “snail mail” that isn’t a bill or marketing trash.
It’s hard to decide…. traditions are what keep the holiday’s out of commercialism and yet, my mom just emailed 100 of her closest friends and family her Publisher produced holiday photo this morning. Her favorite daughter included. (Thanks Mom!)
The Adler Home Team
Broker Associate & Sales Associate
Have Helped Over 950 Families Complete Their Buying or Selling Dreams!
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