Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Symbols: Christmas Card

My hand is about to fall off from addressing envelopes and signing the names of all six family members to the Christmas cards.  This is the first time we’ve done Christmas cards in a long time and time is quickly fading away.  It’s like I suddenly looked up at we’re only two weeks from the big day.  I’m not worried about the shopping, that comes much later, but we do need to hurry up and get these cards out or we’ll have to hold them until next year.  We even did a newsletter with everything that’s been going on.  I don’t if anyone will read it, but it’s there for their perusal.


Now I’m not getting off subject.  I bring up Christmas cards to talk about the history of them.  In London in 1843 Sir Henry Cole was too busy during the holiday season to do the writing he would normally do.  So, he ordered the first set of Christmas cards, which featured an illustration by John Callcott Horsley.  The card was of a family drinking wine, which did cause some controversy.  These cards read “merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you.”  The cards were printed in black and white, then colored by hand.  1,000 cards were produced, of which 12 exist today. 


The early cards that took off from that point rarely had winter scenes or religious themes.  They were usually of children and animals.  In 1875 Louis Prang became the first printer to sell Christmas cards in America.  His cards had pictures of floral arrangements and were expensive.  The cards didn’t take off in America and the cheap penny Christmas postcards from Germany ran him out of business.  Of course the German domination ended after World War 1 and American companies took over.


According to one website that was researched, today more than two billion Christmas cards are exchanged annually, just within the United States.  This year there will be two billion and sixty because of the Slagle effort.



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