The now-traditional tradition of exchanging Christmas cards is one of the newest hallmarks of the Christmas holidays, established long after the Christmas tree, presents or Santa Claus.
In fact, the tradition took inspiration from Valentine’s Day, in which loved ones would exchange cards celebrating the day. Consequently, some of the first Christmas cards were…a bit unusual.
FIRST CHRISTMAS CARD, 1611
Although the first Christmas card technically dates back to the early 1611 in a card sent to King James I (yes, THAT King James), mass-produced cards as we know them didn’t evolve into a holiday tradition until 200 years later.
FIRST CONSUMER CHRISTMAS CARD, 1843
Although the 1843 card seems pleasant enough, having an entire family (children included) toasting with wine to the recipient’s good health teased controversy. The card’s creator, John Callcott Horsley, knew that. He also knew that, just like today, controversy sells. He quickly made a small fortune on his card and established an entire industry.