|by Suzie Johnson|
Candles, decorations and gifts soon followed the Christmas tree as popular traditions. Benevolence; giving to the poor and helping others also became popularized by Albert and Victoria.
Earlier another German tradition, exchanging Christmas cards, was encouraged by Albert and became slowly popularized after a postal service improvement known as the Penny Post, a less expensive way to send missives. Queen Victoria was the first member of the royal family to send out Christmas cards, with the first being sent in 1842.
The first commercially printed card was designed in 1843 by John Calcott Horsely. Due to the high cost of producing the cards, usually only those in the middle and upper classes could purchase cards and send them out. But the idea of Christmas cards was a popular one, and homemade cards were less expensive and much more fun. Even Albert and Victoria encouraged their children to make Christmas cards.
As a child, I loved Christmas cards. Watching for the mailman, running to the mailbox and pulling down the door were as much a tradition for me as sitting with all the cards, trying to read the handwriting and studying each and every school picture I found tucked inside. I didn't know who most of those children in the pictures were, but they sure sparked my imagination.
My favorite cards were from my grandmother, who always remembered to put two sticks of fruit striped gum in the envelope - one for me and one for my sister.
Sadly, the tradition of printed cards seems to be dwindling due to the popularity of e-cards. E-cards are cute, and fun, and some of them are absolute works of art. But sometimes I'm saddened by the ever fading Christmas cards. Like many women today, finding time for writing notes and addressing the cards is hard, if not impossible, for me.
I miss those handwritten notes on the inside, glittery Victorian scenes on the front, and school pictures that fall onto the table when the cards are opened.
Do you still send out Christmas cards? Do you send e-cards, printed cards, or newsletters?
Suzie Johnson’s debut novel, No Substitute, a contemporary inspirational novel, is out now from White Rose Press of The Pelican Book Group. She is a regular contributor to the Inkwell Inspirations blog, a member of ACFW, RWA, and is the cancer registrar at her local hospital. Suzie and her husband are the parents of a wonderful grown son who makes them proud every day – even though he lives way too far away. Suzie and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest with their naughty little cat on an island that is definitely not tropical. You can visit her at: http://www.susandianejohnson.com
BBC Berkshire: Queen Victoria Popularised Our Christmas Traditions by Emily Midgley, 12/15/2010
BBC Too: Make Your Own Victorian Christmas
Queen Victoria, A Biographical Companion by Helen Rappaport, 2003