Do you know the origin of Christmas cards?

Christmas cards have been part of the traditions of these holidays for a long time, widely used until the emergence of the Internet. Printed in the most diverse ways, the cards represented the best way to wish good wishes for Christmas and the New Year. The tradition of sending Christmas cards was born during the Victorian era in the United Kingdom.

Christmas card

The birth of Christmas cards

Records indicate that the first Christmas card was sent by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. He worked as a state official in the British Post and sent family and friends a printed card with best wishes for the holidays.

According to the Encyclopedia of World History, a thousand copies of that first card were printed, prompting others to also join the shipments. This is how the exchange of Christmas cards began during the Victorian era (between 1837 and 1901). An idea that spread throughout the world.

The custom became tradition from certain changes that occurred in the world. The cheaper postage stamps and the reduced costs of printing techniques were the main reasons that encouraged people to send Christmas cards. Starting in 1840, sending these cards by mail became the most suitable and affordable means of sending good wishes to acquaintances, family and friends.

old christmas card
Henry Cole Card – Image by ZendaLibros
An English tradition that became popular around the world

Since that time, Christmas cards had a strong boost and became a tradition. The royal family of England adopted them as an original way of sending greetings. Especially the younger members of royalty promoted the custom of sending handmade cards.

Queen Victoria herself not only approved the idea, but began sending Christmas cards to public figures, which made the tradition popular in the United Kingdom.

The custom became almost indispensable and even those who did not receive a card for Christmas believed themselves “helpless.” Within a few years, England was invaded by millions of Christmas cards crisscrossing post offices.

This event gave rise to Christmas impressions that later became traditional throughout the world. The cards were printed with typical images such as a family toasting, a Christmas tree loaded with gifts, or Santa Claus with his sleigh, among others.

The images were created by Victorian illustrators, who imposed a fashion of decorated trees on a snowy background and colorful ornaments. Before mass production, Christmas cards were lithographed and finished by hand, making them more expensive.

Likewise, many of them were hand painted, with additions of satin ribbons, brocades and silk to give them distinction.

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