One of the many memories I have of Christmas as a child, was of our standing card tree. We moved many times during my childhood, and wherever we ended up celebrating Christmas, you could be sure that golden card tree would be featured somewhere in view.
Christmas cards have played an intricate part in everyone's Christmas. I don't think there is a person out there that is not yet received one in their lifetime, and millions upon million of them make their way through the world's postal services every year, but have you ever wondered what started the tradition? Who does Hallmark have to thank?
~ Papery Whims ~
It was December 1843, and Sir Henry Cole, a British aristocrat wanted to do something different for Christmas. Rather than his usual boring old Christmas letter to his family and friends, he decided to commission a painting for the cover of a card. John Clacott Horsley's design of a family toasting the season became the color-lithographed design of the first ever Christmas card, that was sold by the publisher for 1shilling (roughly 10cents nowadays).
Initially they did not sell very well, with only a thousand copies sold, but the idea soon took flight and by the 1900s, the Christmas card business had grown to such levels, that the Post Office sometimes had trouble handling all the mail.
~ Early Birds Get Their Cards ~
In response to the early popularity of Christmas cards, and the eagerness to have one's card be delivered on Christmas, the postal service devised a method to entice people to mail their cards early.
A special postmark was issued:
POSTED IN ADVANCE
FOR DELIVERY ON
This ensured that all Christmas deliveries would be 'held back' for special delivery on Christmas Eve, or Day.
~ Tradition vs. E-Cards ~
With the Internet entering households across the world, a new trend has emerged: Electronic Greeting Cards, or E-Cards.
It's convenient and fast. They have been life-savers for many a relative's birthday, and a triumph on the Boss's wife's birthday. There's no postage, no handling, and usually no charge for a decent e-card that arrives a moment after you click 'submit'.
Most popular card companies have recognized the trend and now offer E-cards in their online selections as well as free cards for all occasions. There are many great e-card companies online, and I have to admit, I consider www.bluemountain.com, to be one of the best. With a huge selection for almost every holiday imaginable, their Christmas collection is humorous, sentimental and well-crafted.
I still send Christmas cards the old fashioned way, mainly to my immediate family. Albeit so my younger sister can experience the card tree. It's lost a little of it's golden hue, and some of the slots have been taped together a few times, but it's still a very special part of our Christmas.