The custom of sending Christmas cards originated in England in the middle of the nineteenth century. Two individuals are credited with this “invention.” According to some, it was William Egley, an English artist who, in 1842, had the bright idea of designing a card to be sent to his friends on the occasion of Christmas. Others claim that the first one who made a Christmas Card was John C. Horsely, at the request of Sir Henry Cole, in 1846.
Whoever the originator, the use of such cards remained for many years a very limited pre-Christmas act of courtesy to communicate a Bible-inspired greeting among friends. The practice made a “quality leap” in 1875 when Louis Prang, a German printer who had migrated to the United States, decided to introduce the custom of sending Christmas cards to the American people. The idea caught fire immediately and in a short span of time assumed “American proportions,” till it became a worldwide phenomenon — the pre-Christmas feverish activity that we know. It has been computed that in the USA alone, every year an average of three billion Christmas cards are sent!
The preparation of Christmas cards is one of those seasonal activities that has stimulated the creativity of innumerable artists. A good number of them are real masterpieces and they do contain authentic religious messages. Many others, however, are just a reflection of the consumerist and hedonistic environment in which we live, and bear no reference to Christ’s birth, except in the greeting “Merry Christmas.”
Reposted in Euchalette published by Word and Life Publishing, Inc. and http://www.americancatholic.org.