Ho ho ho! And a merry Christmas Card Day, on December 9, to all! ’Tis the season for spreading cheer and joyful greetings, so why not grab a recent family photo, a box of cards, or even a tastefully designed e-card and get to writing! Christmas cards have been around for centuries, so there’s no time like the present to send ’em out and keep your loved ones up to date on your life while you wish them good tidings.
History of Christmas Card Day
Annual Christmas cards have become a popular and time-honored (or maybe family-mandated) tradition; a means of telling your friends and family, however distant, “Happy holidays, we’re thinking of you, and look how great we’re doing!” They’re a way of doing a yearly catch-up, and check in on how much the children have grown and what big moves so-and-so has made. And while they seem commonplace now, that wasn’t always the case.
Sir Henry Cole, a member of the British civil service, created the modern concept of the Christmas card along with his artist friend, John Horsley, in 1843, as a means to encourage more people to use the new British postal system. Their first card was sold for one shilling or about 24 U.S. cents. By the 1860s, the practice of sending Christmas cards was more or less in full swing in Britain thanks to the rise and advent of the printing press.
Christmas cards inevitably reached the USA in the 1840s, close to when the first ones were being printed. However, the expenses involved in their production rendered them a stagnant practice until 1875 when German printer Louis Prang started mass-producing the cards, making them affordable. It wasn’t until the Hall brothers opened Hallmark, however, in the early 20th century that the practice really took off in the U.S.
Today, Christmas cards have become a major part of the holiday tradition. And whether you take a family photo or create one out of construction paper, glue, and glitter, your Christmas cards are sure to make their recipients smile.
Christmas Card Day timeline
Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales receives cards from Michael Maier around Christmas time.
Sir Henry Cole makes the first commercial Christmas card showing a family raising a toast.
Prussian immigrant Louis Prang creates the USA’s first Christmas card at his Boston print shop.
The Hall brothers open Hallmark in Kansas City, launching the modern Christmas card with a new, 4 x 6-inch format.
Christmas Card Day FAQs
What is the most common Christmas card?
A scene of three cherubs: two are praying while the third is peeking out of the group.
Do they have to be “Christmas” cards?
Not at all! These days, “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” cards are just as popular, if not more, than cards that chime “Merry Christmas”. Not surprisingly, these options make the festivities more inclusive of other beliefs or views.
Who can I send them to?
Anyone! Christmas cards are a great way to check in on loved ones and keep them up to date on your life, or just to say “hi”.
How To Celebrate Christmas Card Day
Make and send your own Christmas cards
Who needs boxed cards anyway? You run the risk of giving and receiving the same card! Rather than spend your money in the greeting-card section, take the time to put scissors, glue, and pens to paper to send your loved ones an extra-special card that really says you care.
Put up a display of your favorite cards
Many of us tend to save particularly pretty or thoughtful Christmas cards from years past, so why not put them to good use! Grab a card holder, a corkboard and pushpins, or even some fridge magnets, and put your cards from previous years and this year on display for all to see! Shoot, you can even string them together to make a festive garland to celebrate the season.
Write thank yous for your Christmas cards
Everyone writes thank you notes for Christmas gifts, but what about Christmas cards? If you were thrilled to hear from your childhood friend or great-aunt, why not send them a note that says, “Thank you for thinking of me”.
5 Amazing Facts About Hallmark
It’s family-owned and operated
To this day, Hallmark is owned by the family of the Hall brothers who opened it in 1910.
J.C. Hall was a highschool dropout
Who says you need a degree to be successful?
They created wrapping paper
After running out of tissue paper one holiday season, the company needed a quick fix to wrap gifts elegantly so they taped French paper-envelope liners together.
They were closely associated with Disney
Founder J.C. Hall’s wife went to school with Walt Disney, helping Hallmark secure a licensing deal to showcase Disney’s classic characters.
They do more than sappy movies
Back in the day, the Hallmark channel was a TV-movie powerhouse and has 81 Emmys to its name.
We We Love Christmas Card Day
Christmas cards are a creative outlet during the holidays
Tired of the hustle and bustle of buying gifts and dashing from party to party? Take a break by making and sending Christmas cards! Throw a matching family photoshoot or get crafty and make customized cards to send to loved ones.
Christmas cards keep you connected to your loved ones
No matter how often you actually talk to your distant relatives, chances are you’ll get a Christmas card from them! Christmas cards are a great way to catch up on the year’s highlights if you haven’t had time to get in on all the details throughout the year.
There are whole museum exhibits dedicated to Christmas cards
Drop by the British Museum to see Queen Anne’s 1900 era collection. After that, hop on over to the Charles Dickens Museum in London to see the display of the first-ever Christmas Card, which was created the same year as Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.
Christmas Card Day dates