The History of Christmas Cards

September 27, 2018

Christmas Cards Throughout History

Many people think of Christmas cards as a relatively modern social nicety, but the custom actually has its roots in roots in ancient Egypt. Papyrus scrolls were used to exchange greetings among family, friends and neighbors. Evidence has also been found that ancient Chinese societies used rudimentary forms of greeting cards to convey good wishes for the coming New Year.

It wasn’t until 15th century Rome, however, that Christmas cards began to become standard in upper class household. Paper was just beginning to become available to a larger number of people, and Christmas cards and other forms of greetings were handmade by the sender rather than purchased in retail outlets. In Germany, woodcuts were used in lieu of paper, and the items often gained heirloom status among the individuals to whom they were sent.
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Valentine’s Day cards also began to become popular in the 15th century, and in keeping with the times, many of these were elaborately ornate creations that served as works of art in their own right. it is not clear whether the Valentine’s Day fad evolved to include Christmas greetings or if Christmas cards were the predecessors of Valentine’s Cards. Either way, cards of all types became popular in some factions of European society, but they didn’t become popular among the masses until centuries later when mass production of paper made it possible for everyone to have access to the necessary materials.

Handmade Christmas cards began to fall out of favor in 1843, when a London gentleman named Sir Henry Cole hired an artist to custom-design cards he could send to family members and friends. An enterprising young woman in Massachusetts started the first greeting card company several years later, and a new industry was born, find out more about Christmas cards at

Greeting cards of all types became immensely popular in the United States during the late 1800s and the first part of the 20th century. Approximately one century later, card evolved into yet another form, and paper was forsaken in favor of digital cards sent over electronic devices. No matter what the medium, however, the sentiment remains the same.

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