The next time you want to stump your friends with “tweet” or a Facebook challenge, consider this question: Which country is credited with the tradition of sending Christmas cards?
Before you say “America,” here’s a hint: It’s actually another country whose flag also is colored red, white and blue.
Yes, our good friends “across the pond” – England – get the credit for starting what has long been a seasonal mainstay.
Discovering the origin of Christmas cards is just one of thousands of historical facts that Ornamentshop.com has uncovered during its tour of Christmas traditions around the globe.
Like many other trailblazers, John Calcott Horsley found inspiration in simplicity. In 1843, he created a three-panel card, with one panel depicting a contented English family during Christmas in England and the other two showing Victorian acts of charity.
His quaint message?: “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.” He printed 1,000 cards and sold them for one shilling apiece. The British snatched them up eagerly and displayed them near another relatively new English Christmastime focal point: a Christmas tree, which Prince Albert introduced to England in 1841.
More about Christmas in England…
The British, who are so steeped in their respect for customs and traditions, continue to amplify Horsley’s message of charitable living by pairing it with their reverence for St. Nicholas during Christmas in England.
Case in point: They celebrate St. Nicholas Day in grand style during Advent and invite the man with the long, white beard, burgundy robe and golden staff to attend Sunday church services to explain to children the importance of giving and charitable acts. The invitations keep St. Nicholas quite busy, for the country has more than 500 churches that are named in his honor. (Another historical fact worthy of a “tweet”?) And even churches that have not taken his name make him an integral part of their celebrations.
Canterbury in particular throws a vibrant St. Nicholas Fest, which begins with a parade and ends at the cathedral with St. Nicholas and the archbishop leading thousands of children and adults in dance and prayer. The Cathedral Boys Choir also takes the main stage – never failing to warm up the crowd, no matter how frigid the temperature is outdoors.
To learn more compelling, nostalgic facts about Christmas in England – and enjoy stumping your friends in the meantime – take a visual leap across the pond by reading Ornamentshop.com’s article about “that other country” defined by their love of red, white and blue.