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Christmas Cards: A History of the Custom

Everyone loves to receive Christmas Cards. The excitement of watching for the mail delivery every day as Christmas approaches, and tearing open those fancy envelopes all add to getting us into the Christmas Spirit. We display our cards with pride around our homes. Some people hang ribbons on their walls to hold their cards, others hang the cards from their Christmas Tree, or place them on the mantle for all to enjoy. But did you ever wonder where the tradition of sending out Christmas Cards started?

This custom started in 1840, in Britain, when the first "Penny Post" public postal deliveries started. For one penny, cards and letters could be sent out all over Britain. In about 1860, the improvement of printing presses allowed for larger numbers of cards to be produced, and they became even more popular. Then one year, the public postal system decided that if a card was mailed in an unsealed envelope, the price of posting it would only be a half-penny. This helped to increase the popularity of the Christmas Card even more.

Early Christmas cards depicted Victorian paintings of children playing in the snow, gaily decorated homes, and religious pictures of the Nativity.

Today, Christmas Cards are available in thousands of languages, and various themes, from traditional religious scenes to jokes, winter scenes and of course, Santa Claus.


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