• There is some debate over who was the
"inventor" of the Christmas card. The oldest
Christmas card created for general distribution
probably was created by William Egley Jr.; a 16
year-old British youth.
• His 3 1/2-inch- by 5 1/2-inch, preserved in the
British Museum, depicts four holiday scenes and
a "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year"
greeting with blanks after the word "To" on the
top and "From" at the bottom. The date on his
card is 1842... or 1849.
• In the year 1843, Sir Henry Cole commissioned
John Calcott Horsley to paint a card showing
the feeding and clothing of the poor. A center
panel displayed a happy family embracing one
another, sipping wine and enjoying the
festivities. (So much for good intentions. The
card drew criticism because showing a child
enjoying a sip of wine was considered
"fostering the moral corruption of children.“)
• "A Merry Christmas and a
Happy New Year to You"
was printed on that first
Christmas card. Horsley
produced 1,000 cards and
offered them for sale at
1s (one shilling) each.
• Legend says Sir Henry
Cole didn't send any
Christmas cards the
following year, but the
custom became popular
• In 1875, Louis Prang, a German immigrant to
the U.S., opened a lithographic shop with
$250 and published the first line of U.S.
Christmas cards. His initial creations featured
flowers and birds, unrelated to the Christmas
scene. By 1881, Prang was producing more
than five million Christmas cards each year.
• His Yuletide greetings
began to feature snow
scenes, fir trees,
glowing fireplaces and
children playing with
toys. His painstaking
have made his cards a
favorite of collectors
• The tradition of sending Christmas cards has evolved
over the years. Today, many companies have even
adopted the practice by sending business Christmas
cards as a way to wish their customers a very happy
• Electronic cards, or e-cards are also flooding the
• As Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ,
cards often show scenes of His nativity. Others
show images associated with Christmas such
as wintry scenes of snow-laden pines, Father
Christmas (Santa Claus), stars, candles or holly.
The traditional greeting written on a
Christmas card is "Merry Christmas", but
many other greetings are also used, such as
"Happy Xmas" or "Happy Noel".