Sending your holiday greetings to loved ones and associates is not a new custom. But, where did this tradition come from and why do we still do it?

During every holiday season, year after year, I anticipate quite eagerly for the christmas cards to see how much my brothers’ and sister’s children have grown. I also take pleasure in sending construction christmas cards to my dad who works in construction. By the time that I had my kids and became a parent, I joined in on the fun with much excitement. And right then and there I came to truly understand just how much pain and effort it takes to simply come up with a simple holiday card.

Should you choose to do a box card you might need to think about handwriting your message on each card. Another option that is available for you is the christmas letter or newsletter which can help you save so much more time, but you will still be still stuffing and addressing envelopes, making sure you have the right amount of stamps, and a possible excruciating hunt for a mailbox. And that is not including the need to make a list of all contacts and confirming the right addresses for people that you have lost contact with for a while but, for the sake of family and friendship, are on the list of people you give the holiday cards to. Sending away christmas card, nowadays however have become easier thanks to technology like being given the option to send virtual cards. And you can as well have these cards imposed with an edited family photo then printed with a sweet or funny message. This would help you cut down on time you have to do handwriting each of the letters, but then again, the process of securing envelopes, stamps, and mailboxes will still be an arduous part of the process you would have to go through. That is of course if you are not willing to pay the price to have an online greeting card company address and send them for you through the mail. It can be quite expensive however as holiday card greeting goes and that is even before you factor in the holiday photos shoots that some people stage specifically for their holiday card. But it is no surprise that the greeting card business is booming and the tradition is running strong. In the US alone, 1.3 billion holiday cards are being sent annually. And that comprises of about a quarter of all the annual greeting card sales. So why exactly do we subject ourselves with something so tedious? How has the christmas greeting card tradition survived decades upon decades.

A little history

First of all, this custom of giving and receiving written holiday greetings did not come from thin air. However these greetings were not considered christmas card until far later on 1843 when Sir. Henry Cole tried to find a way to have an expedient means of clearing the backlog of mail on his desk that demanded a reply. The aristocrats and the nobles during that time viewed responding to mail as an obligation one cannot take lightly. It was believed then that Cole, though he worked for the post office, had quite the number of unanswered mail. So he had to ask an artist by the name of John Callcott Horsley to make a generic card for him to send in reply. The artist create a card that wrote “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You” and it had a festive family who were having a feast over christmas dinner. He sent a copy of  this to 1000 people and was happy that he had finally completed the social letter-writing obligation he was not so fond of.

The idea quickly spread across britain but the practice was considered too expensive for a commoner. Later, on 1875 Louis Prang found a way to mass produce literature using chromolithographed card from the United States. It was much more affordable for everyone and the design had quite the response. It had a red flower with the words that simply said merry christmas. It became a rousing success during the 1880s. Prang was thought of to be printing five million christmas cards a year then. And as technology advanced and the print production became cheaper in the 1890s, the holiday card business continued to grow. More businesses dived into manufacturing cards and joined the market, although the quality of the cards declined. The christmas cards also lost its novelty and each started to look like every other one with almost all of them featuring cherubic children and angels. Later on in the turn of the 20th a new printing technique was introduced that  was able to yield prints that were quite more photographic in nature. And the variety of features for the cards also multiplied to include almost any subject like sports, landscapes, and patriotic drawings. And what improved the most were the content and technique which would later then propel the industry onward and inject renewed interest in the tradition of christmas cards.

From then on, the christmas card had continued to evolve and with the use of technology, it is so much easier to have one custom made especially for each family, individual or company.

Final word

Nowadays, it the creation of christmas cards mark the time when families get together. The loved ones gather and come up with ideas to make the cards catchy, and send an update about the current status of their family while at the same time, delivering the essence of christmas.

On business side of things, corporate christmas cards have also become quite a hit as well as themed cards like construction christmas cards. Most employers have now more than ever looked out for the welfare of their employees. Simple construction christmas cards, like for my dad for instance, remind him that I am proud of him and his profession. The other form of this kind of card is one that a business sends to another to help foster relationships.