Are Christmas Cards Dead?
Like many of you in the same vintage as I, have pondered over the last few years of whether not to post out printed Christmas cards. With friends and family overseas and many interstate, I religiously used to write out Christmas cards that included a family photo and a personal note.
With many of these same people (even the older ones) now on social media, these people are aware of what has been happening in my life and have seen photos of my family and me all during the year. So over the last few years, the number of printed cards I post out has reduced. One sad reason is many of the older people that I used to send cards to are no longer with us in this world.
When I meet my different groups of friends in the lead up to Christmas, I still like to write out a Christmas card with a personal message and hand it to them.
Greeting cards are big business, so I thought I would look at the history of greeting cards.
How It All Began
The oldest instances of a greeting card being used date back to the Egyptian papyrus scrolls, the Chinese custom of sending good will and luck to celebrate the New Year, and the German’s woodcut Valentine greeting cards. Apart from these, many people used to make and send handmade cards that were hand-delivered to the recipient. However, the introduction of the postal stamp greatly reduced the cost and hence increased the popularity of sending a greeting card to family and friends on special occasions.
Europeans began selling and exchanging handmade greeting cards as early as 1415.
Initially greeting cards were mostly sent out on two important occasions – Christmas and birthdays. Soon people came to employ well-known artists to make custom greeting cards for them for various occasions, and the practice got established as a business, with Marcus Ward and Co. being one of the earliest mass producers of greeting cards (1860s).
The custom of posting printed Christmas cards started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. He was a government employee who was very interested in the new Public Post Office and wondered how ordinary people could use it.
Less than a century later, greeting cards became so popular that people actually did not need an occasion to send out a card to someone, with studio cards becoming the new rage.
Humorous greeting cards known as studio cards became popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
The Good Ol’ Days
The biggest producer of greeting cards is Hallmark Cards. Hallmark Cards is one of the leading greeting companies in the United States. It was founded in 1910 by Joyce Clyde Hall in Dorothy’s city, Kansas. What began as one man’s idea of cashing in on the postcard rage of 1903, ended up becoming one of the biggest greeting card companies to be awarded with the National Medal of Arts in 1985.
The 1990s saw one word change the way people view the world around them; Internet. The Internet changed everything about life – education, entertainment, business, communication, everything! As the world caught on to the World Wide Web, the world of greeting cards retreated into itself as e-cards took over. E-cards became popular in the late 1990s, but are said to have been initiated around the early 1980s.
Why People Preferred e-cards
Many features of an e-card made it popular as they began to rank above traditional paper greeting cards. You could include animation in an e-card. E-cards could be delivered by a single click of the mouse over thousands of miles. E-cards allowed an extremely high level of personalisation. A user could upload his/her face in an animation video too.
These and many other reasons make e-cards highly sophisticated. Apart from this, you never miss a birthday or an occasion. Since e-cards are delivered within milliseconds, your wishes always reached on time. Besides, many greeting card websites allowed users to make accounts and store the birth date of everyone they know. The card website then sends a reminder to the user on respective birthdays. So convenient, especially for those who couldn’t remember birthdays!
Has Social Media Killed the printed and/or eChristmas cards?
Much like the verse of an old 80’s song by the Buggles, “Video killed the radio star!” Has social media (or the internet) killed the Christmas card? Distance no longer means isolation with everything internet, so do we feel the need to send out cards to connect with family and friends overseas? Will one more printed form of communication go completely digital? For Christmas, maybe, but possibly not for birthdays and some other special occasions for a while yet.
Will you be sending out Christmas cards this year? Next year? In five years time?
It will be interesting to see how long this tradition lasts. Regardless of how you communicate, Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017 to all from Hall of Fame Marketing Bendigo.
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