Every year, at the beginning of December I start thinking about Christmas cards. Actually that’s not quite true, I start thinking about Christmas cards right after Christmas the year before, when all the Christmas stationery goes on sale! Every year, I go through the cards after the holidays, and pick out my favourite one for the next year. (That might be a bad habit to have. . . I’m a stationery hoarder. . . ) And then, fast forward to the first week (or second if I’m late) of December of the next year, I go through my address book and write greetings, and put a Christmas postage stamp on the envelopes and off they go, winging their way across the country!
In this era of texting and technology, sending Christmas greetings has become somewhat of a “lost art”, as has all mail, and it’s really too bad, because there is nothing quite like receiving a handwritten note in the mail, is there? One of my favourite parts of my day is stopping at the mailbox to see if there is anything in it. More often than not, I am like Charlie Brown, calling “hello in there” with no response, but nevertheless, I do still love it! I guess I’m a Victorian girl at heart. This might be because I read Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions at an impressionable age and ever since then, I’ve adored all of the old fashioned holiday traditions.
But, this year I started thinking, when did Christmas cards come into popularity? The Victorians “invented” Christmas as we know it today. Many of the traditions that surround Christmas came into popularity in the 1800’s, such as Christmas trees, which had before then been found mainly in Germany. And Christmas cards are another one of those traditions that became popularized in the Victorian era.
So, after a bit of reading, I discovered that what started the tradition of Christmas cards was actually one man’s laziness, and ingenuity. Traditionally, at Christmas, people used to send Christmas and New Year’s letters. In the 1840’s with the advent of an economical postal system (the “Penny Post”) people started taking advantage of the mail system, and sending out their Christmas and New Years letters with abandon. This was great, but in Victorian England it was rude to not reply to a letter you had received. In 1843, Sir Henry Cole started receiving tons of letters- he was apparently very popular and was in the position of having too many friends. Feeling overwhelmed by the pile of letters stacking up, he devised a way to reply to the senders, with the first ever “Christmas Card”. He commissioned an artist to create a card for him, with the message “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you” written on it, and then, he simply wrote each person’s name on it and sent it out. It took a while for Christmas Cards to catch on, but once they did, they skyrocketed in popularity and today we can’t imagine Christmas without cards. Although the popularity is waning these days, I do still see plenty of stationery and cards this time of year, so many people must still enjoy this tradition. If you want to see the first card and history, you can read more here.
So, all that to say; I love Christmas cards, and any kinds of cards really, so I decided that it would be fun to do a free Christmas card printable! This is an illustration I did last year, which I have made into Christmas cards and present tags, since I know that many of you don’t need cards. Print these out on some nice cardstock, and voila!
And, while I’ve got you here, I’ve not found Christmas cards to do very well at sales in the past, but is that something you would be interested in me adding to my shop for next year? If so, let me know!
Do you enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards?