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Christmas Cards and Greetings

During the few weeks in December that lead up to Christmas, post offices across the world experience an increase of mail, and most of it is Christmas cards and gifts. Traditionally at this time of year, individuals, organisations and businesses send Christmas cards with a picture, printed greeting and handwritten message to friends, families and colleagues.

These cards are generally called Christmas cards but, for those who wish to steer away from the Christian significance of this period of the year, they are also called greeting cards. Christmas cards usually have pictures of aspects of the Nativity story on them, whereas the more generic greeting cards may have Christmas trees, landscapes, Santa Claus, comic greetings or brightly coloured modern art and usually say ‘Season’s Greetings’ rather than the ‘Merry Christmas’ that is on the religious cards.

‘Christmas’ cards originated in England in 1843 and, at that time, tended to be more related to the coming season of spring and often had pictures of gnomes or fairies. They began their history as a folded card in an envelope, then became more like today’s postcard but have now returned mostly to the folded card. Businesses and royalty soon caught on and began sending out customised cards for Christmas. America followed quickly and rapidly the sending of the Christmas card became an international custom.

Today, the Christmas card is usually a folded card that has a bright picture on the front, which usually includes the colours of Christmas. Inside is a pre-printed greeting that may say:

  • ‘Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.’
  • ‘May God’s blessings be on your home this Christmas.’
  • ‘May the Joy and Peace of Christmas be with you today and throughout the New Year.’
  • ‘Happy Holidays!’
  • ‘Season’s Greetings.’

To add to the season, post offices often have a range of discounted and Christmas-themed stamps printed for Christmas. Some people are moving away from the printed card to sending an e-greeting at Christmastime but many still prefer the more personal touch of the physical card.