The very first Christmas Card (below)
Self made cards with verses have been sent, by hand or by post, for centuries. The first that's recognizable as what we now think of as a Christmas card, that is, a printed card sent by post, was sent at Christmas 1843.
Sir Henry Cole, the founder of the London's Victoria and Albert Museum, had sent many handwritten cards previously but that year he commissioned John Calcott Horsley to paint a card showing the feeding and clothing of the poor.
"A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You" was printed on the first Christmas card.
Since then the billions of cards that have been sent almost all contain a printed verse. Many of these are culled from religious or sentimental texts, notably from Victorian authors such as Charles Dickens.
Here's a selection of the verses and rhymes that have been used as source material by Christmas card writers - from the touching and profound to the comic and cynical:
A Christmas shopper's complaint is one of long-standing.
Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! - Hamilton Wright Mabie
Christmas ... is not an eternal event at all, but a piece of one's home that one carries in one's heart. - Freya Stark
Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home. - Carol Nelson
Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. - Mary Ellen Chase
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. - Burton Hillis
Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! - Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836
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