December 23, 2009 It is a joy each day to go to my mailbox and discover Christmas cards from near and far. Yesterday it prompted me to retrieve the folder. "Christmas Traditions'' from my Mom's old bookcase/desk drawer and reread the history of Christmas cards.
"In 1843, Henry Cole of London dreamed up the idea of sending a Christmas greeting cards to his friends, thus originating the first Christmas card. It was a three-panel card showing a family party in the center. The side panels depicted the old tradition of feeding and clothing the needy. The wording, "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,'' have never been surpassed. The idea caught on and by 1806, several greeting card firms had sprung up in England.''
From another source: "In 1846, J.C. Horsley, a British artist, prepared a drawing at the request of a fellow Englishman. The card which he prepared contained the greeting "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year'' over a typical family scene. The idea was well accepted. By 1860, Marcus Ward and Company, a London firm, was making the cards every year. Ten years later, these Christmas cards were introduced in America by L. Prang, a German born painter. These were more along the lines of the kind in use today. He helped popularize cards by holding contests each year for the best designs.
"Which is more important—the picture on the card, or the text? According to Hallmark, it isn't even a close call. It's the text by a mile.
"Speaking of miles, in the United States over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent each year. To put that in perspective...if average-sized cards were placed side by side, they would stretch around the world six times.'
What a warm, fuzzy feeling to sit down with a cup of tea and read my cards.
— Country Cousin
Gertie Brooks is a lifelong Almont area resident. A 'farm girl,' Gertie is the premier historian for the Almont area, and frequently offers her memories and first-hand accounts in her 'Country Cousin' columns.