The Holiday Card Has a Fascinating History (And Is Still a Huge Industry)

These seasonal greetings aren’t going away anytime soon.

Image via (cc) Flickr user DinosaursAreNotDead

In the USA, we still buy 1.6 billion Christmas cards a year. In a fascinating article for Jstor Daily, writer Ellen Brown traces the timeline of the practice, from its birth in English-speaking countries (1840s Scotland) all the way to our modern era of social media and GIFs of cats dressed as reindeer. Brown explores the ways Christmas cards reflect modern civilization, from advances in printing technology to the expectation of women to be “caretakers of extended family connection,” responsible for keeping in touch after the demise of the family farm and the rise of industrialization. Brown also explores the deeper psychology behind Christmas cards, including research showing that many people report feeling guilty and defensive about failing to keep in touch with extended family over the holidays. Basically, the classic Christmas card is woven into our cultural consciousness and isn’t going away anytime soon.