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The Origin of Christmas Cards

This holiday season, millions of people will send Christmas cards to their friends and relatives based on a tradition that goes back more than 200 years. Actually, the history of sending season's greetings and holiday wishes goes all the way back to ancient Chinese and Egyptian societies. In Europe, around 600 years ago, people started sending holiday greetings written on papyrus and other materials.

The real origin of Christmas cards as we know them, however, comes a bit later. Until the mid-19th Century, all cards were handmade or printed from woodcut. In 1843, Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first commercial Christmas card with the words "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You." The card was designed by John Callott Horsley, and it featured a family feasting and drinking wine together. Other early English cards followed a similar theme, depicting families, flowers and images that evoked the feeling of an oncoming spring. It wasn't until several years later that the familiar motifs of winter and religious icons would become more common on Christmas cards.

After the release of the first Christmas card by Sir Henry Cole, Christmas cards spread and became popular very quickly. Many people started making batches to send to friends and family, including Queen Victoria in the 1840's. Less than 20 years later, helped by decreasing postage costs, companies started mass-producing Christmas cards with a large variety of designs for different tastes. These included religious cards, humorous cards and cards with images of children and animals.

Over the years, peoples' tastes have changed and larger companies started making more cards with a greater variety. Nevertheless, the motivation behind this tradition has stayed the same—Christmas cards help us spread holiday cheer and offer warm season's greetings to our friends and family.

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