As a child, I remember sitting at the kitchen table writing Christmas cards for my school friends. Now, as an adult, I still send Christmas cards. But why do we send a card to wish someone a merry Christmas? It's just a folded bit of card, right?
The first Christmas card
People have been wishing friends and family a 'merry Christmas' in written letters for hundreds of years all over the world, but the concept of sending a Christmas card as we know it today, began with Sir Henry Cole sending a card to his grandmother in 1843. Sir Henry Cole commissioned artist John Horsley to design the first commercial card that was printed and hand coloured. Only 1,000 of these cards were produced and they were sold for a shilling each, which was far to pricey for the general public and deemed a luxury item only sold in a handful of shops in London.
Brining it to the masses
Just a few years before the first Christmas card was sent, Sir Henry Cole helped to introduce the 'Penny Post', a postal service that the general public could afford to use to send letters. Before this, sending post was a luxury that only the rich could afford. The 'Penny Post' were able to offer a penny stamp due to railways being built which meant more post could be sent on mass via the railways compared to a horse and cart!
From around 1860 cards were produced and sent on mass up and down the country. Printing methods improved, the 'Penny Post' became more popular and the cost of sending a card dropped to half a penny which meant Christmas cards were affordable and practically anyone could send one!
The card that Sir Henry Cole sent to his grandmother in 1843 was sold at auction
for £20,000 in 2001.
Why send a Christmas card?
Even with the introduction of Christmas 'e-cards' (remember those?!) or being able to send a text to loved ones at Christmas, sending a card is a tradition that is set to stick around for many more years. That warm feeling you get when physically opening a card that has been handwritten and posted will never be beaten by an email or text. Knowing someone has thought of you and taken the time to choose a card, write a message and post it creates an emotional connection that technology will never bring! And that is why continue to send Christmas cards. Thank you Sir Henry Cole for creating that first card that started it all!