The very first Christmas card was created in England in 1843 and the picture on the front of the card was drawn up by John Calcott Hawsley. It was commissioned by Sir Henry and showed the poor being fed and clothed with a middle panel featuring a family enjoying the Christmas festivities. The message on the card said “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you”. While history states that Sir Henry did not send any further Christmas cards the following year, the custom of sending Christmas cards continued as more and more people started to send them.
The very first Christmas cards that were produced for the holidays were designed by Ellen H Clapsaddle and Frances Brundage who were illustrators and Kate Greenaway who was a children's writer in the Victorian era. These cards were particularly popular from the late 1800s throughout the early 1900s. They had elaborate designs and were highly decorated with materials such as silk and satin. Many were cut into unusual shapes and some would fit together to form amazing patterns.
Some Christmas cards at this time would also feature Biblical verses or religious pictures so they may express the meaning of Christmas for the Catholic and Christian religions. Cards like this are still very much in use today and they are still a very popular choice for many people.
In 1875 the first Christmas cards produced in America were on the shelves. These were thanks to a German immigrant called Louis Prang who had opened up his own Lithia graphic shop and made many of these cards. From here the availability of cards for Christmas exploded in America and many different shops started selling them.
Christmas cards were traditionally used to send messages of good fortune and good luck to friends and family for the coming year. They were used to get in touch with people and let them know that they were thinking of them during Christmas time. They were also sent to make people aware of the meaning of Christmas.