Sending Christmas cards started in England in 1843. Before this time, people used to send private notes wishing Merry Christmas, this was also done for births and to wish a happy new year.
Sir Henry Cole was a busy man and did not have the time to write personal messages for Christmas in 1843, although he didn’t want to just not send any, so he hired an artist called John Calcott Horsley and got him to design a card which could be sent off straight away.
It also had some religious symbols on it too, for example, sprigs of holly symbolises chastity, while ivy symbolises places God had walked.
The message underneath the picture was “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.”
There were one thousand of these cards printed and was sold in only a few stores in London, only one of the original cards still exists today.
Two reasons for the initial popularity of Christmas cards are given. The custom may have caught on because greetings could be mailed for a penny each in 1843, London.
The other reason is attributed to a scandal with Horsley’s design. A family, surrounded with religious symbols, holding glasses of wine, offended some. The controversy is thought to have helped promote Cole’s idea.
So really we send Christmas cards because it’s better than just writing personal notes to people. They look attractive and it doesn’t take much time to wish people important to you a merry Christmas.