Appalachia Christmas

Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards From Appalachia

Almost every year the girls and I make Christmas Cards. For some reason we never got around to our annual crafting session last December so we were anxious to get started on our card making this year.

According to the Why Christmas website Sir Henry Cole started the tradition of sending Christmas Cards in 1843. Cole, who lived in the United Kingdom, was an employee of the new post office system. Cole wanted everyday people to be able to use the postal system just like the more well to do folks and government officials used it. Cole thought Christmas cards would be the perfect way for every day folks to use the postal system.

One of Cole’s friends, John Horsley, was an artist. Horsely designed the first Christmas Card and the two of them sold it for 1 shilling-which was quite a bit of money in those days.

By the 1870s cards and postage had dropped in price making it easier for more folks to send Christmas cards. The website had this to say about Christmas Cards in the United States:

Christmas Cards appeared in the United States of America in the late 1840s, but were very expensive and most people couldn’t afford them. It 1875, Louis Prang, a printer who was originally from German but who had also worked on early cards in the UK, started mass producing cards so more people could afford to buy them. Mr Prang’s first cards featured flowers, plants, and children. In 1915, John C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hallmark Cards, who are still one of the biggest card makers today!

In the 1910s and 1920s, home made cards became popular. They were often unusual shapes and had things such as foil and ribbon on them. These were usually too delicate to send through the post and were given by hand.

In today’s modern world there are so many beautiful Christmas cards to choose from it’s hard to narrow down a favorite. The massed produced cards are lovely-then there’s sites like Etsy where you can find a multitude of handmade cards for sale-or you can do like we do and make them yourselves!


*Source:  “The History of Christmas Cards.” — Christmas Customs and Traditions. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <>.

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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    I wonder if anybody remembers buying boxes of Christmas cards from their school. There was 6 of us youngins trying to sell them to our parents and all the neighborhood kids did the same. Mommy could only buy one box to send our family. I remember waiting by the mailbox with a dollar to buy a book of stamps. Any cards intended for family within walking distance were hand delivered.
    Our teachers would handout mimeographed copies of pictures of Christmas trees, wreaths, angels and ornaments for us to color, cut and paste into folded sheets of paper to make Christmas cards.
    I thought all that creative stuff was way in the past until last Christmas my 11 year old grandson brought us an origami snowflake. Lest you think he might be a little on the sissy side, he also gave me a pump shotgun he had made out of paper, complete with shells. And the pump mechanism actually works. I wouldn’t be one to brag but he could be an architect or an engineer in the future if he continues on the same path. His little brother Scooter is following in his footsteps. Scooter is 2-1/2 and doesn’t talk yet, but he can sit in the floor with a bunch of blocks and build elaborate structures that most adults are incapable of assembling.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    I think what makes Christmas cards so special is they give us a way to proclaim our love and faith to one another even when we don’t readily have the words.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    My husband makes our Christmas cards every year…look for one in your mail!

  • Reply
    Joy Newer
    December 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Tipper, Have so enjoyed what you posted today,especially the Why Christmas Website. Ken Roper loved what you had to say.
    Joy Newer

  • Reply
    December 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Christmas cards are so meaningful to so many recipients. Far too many in the jaded generation who deal with everything with sarcasm and think they elevate themselves by putting other people down look down on this tradition. But others are able to find alternative ways to remember and honor their kith and kin during the holidays. It’s all about making others feel special and remembered and part of God’s love.
    For my parents, as younger generations send out messages by social media and don’t take the time to mail something, it is a time of increasing sadness as they are made pointedly aware that there are fewer and fewer of their generation to exchange cards.
    But the cards, and newsletters, and special messages of poems and artwork are still a special way of letting friends, family and associates know that you are thinking of them. And if it supports the U.S. Post Office, that is actually a good thing (although that comment could spawn a lively debate. : ) )
    Charitable giving is always important and we do it as part of Christmas gifting. I buy or make an ornament representative of each charitable gift made in honor of each family member or friend. As grandma, I still buy special gifts for the grandchildren, but they know about the donations as well.
    I think it was Jerry Brown, once again Governor of California, who in some interview defended not buying Christmas gifts: he said he preferred to buy a gift if inspired to do so – something that would be useful or meaningful at the time – kind of like celebrating Christmas all year round. – and that’s a good thing!
    And so, Tipper, once again you have inspired all sorts of mindful meanderings. . . . thanks for the journey.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 7, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Don’t get me started on this subject! You know I love, love to make anything and especially cards. I have made my own cards for a long time. I did go through a spell where I just sent store-boughten cards to aquaintances, but then I got over it. The reason was I enjoy making the cards so much!
    “Upcycle” is new, you know! “Oh, ho , ho and a bottle of glue!”…I have been doing that new term “she is an upcycler” (and most Appalachians are”) for many a year. I love to “upcycle”, not of necessity, but because I can! Also, love to see what can come of a piece of cardboard, string, can, or magazine clipping!
    I have been blessed to own one of your cards…very nice.
    I just wish we all live close enough to each other so we could gather at the community center (?) somewhere and “upcycle” craft our Christmas cards together. The men included…
    This makes me very sad, when I hear one of my Blind Pig songs, (and Tipper knows it is my favorite)..Little Old Ladies…I cry every time I hear it. Eventhough my Mother lived close to us, I imagine there were days when she was feeling very alone, and wished someone would visit.
    She was a card saver, I found scrapbooks from her baby shower (me) from 1940. I found Christmas cards from her teen years in a scrapbook. I found her (married life) boxes of Christmas cards…
    I then made a scrapbook of all her Christmas cards…The latest ones of her years I cut the fronts off and remade a Christmas Card and sent it back to that person who sent it to Mother in the first place..telling them the story of her saving their card in a box of honor…We sent cards to a lot of the same folks…of course some have passed so didn’t get a recycled card, but their children, my cousins did!
    To think that it took (some cards 40 years old) that long to make a new 1912 upcycled Christmas card!
    I’m outta here, I could craft all day…Later,
    Thanks Tipper, Loved this post!
    Your card is sitting on my craft table as I speak! So weird that you mentioned this today, all I have to do is put the backing on it! This one I drew in pastel chalk and mixed media…using a (you would never believe) a kleenex box oval opening cut out and recycled as the frame for the small picture! I put a “boomer”
    in it for Deer Hunter, he will have to look for it!

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    December 7, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Once telephone rates became less prohibitive, I stopped sending cards. I call people and tell them “This is Your Christmas Card.” and then have a pleasant conversation. Now that I can call worldwide for pennies, Christmas cards and postage are cost prohibitive.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    December 7, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Tipper: Your history lesson is delightful. You may have put me in the mood to pull out all those Christmas Cards that I save each year, DUST, and place them in special places. Then I have to STAY inspired and starting writing and sending the new ones!
    I needed your note.
    Best regards,
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 7, 2013 at 8:16 am

    For several years in the past I
    designed and worded my own Cards
    of Christmas and had a printing
    company to fix ’em up for me.
    The last time I tried this, every
    company I chose refused to print
    the words “Merry Christmas”. Instead they wanted to say “Happy Holidays”, and I couldn’t see taking “Christ” out of Christmas…ever! My parents
    warned of this coming several years ago and I remember! …Ken

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    December 7, 2013 at 8:10 am

    I do not “craft” my own cards, if you consider personal art-work as crafting them. But for many years (almost every year) I have sent out a “Christmas Letter” and an original Christmas poem. Maybe folks don’t have time for my “summarized report of the year” and my original poem. However, in respect to how much I personally enjoy the ones I receive from others, I think perhaps that maybe some “out there” somewhat like hearing from me, too! In sincerity, when I say “A Joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year,” I really, really mean it!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 7, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Your cards are always so pretty, Tipper. They are a message themselves if nothing were written in then. They say remember what’s important, remember what is of value, you are important to me. I have saved every single card you have sent me.
    The history is interesting but sad at the same time. The whole tradition of Christmas cards was began to support a bureaucratic system!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Many years ago we stopped sending Christmas cards and increased our contribution to our mission offerings by the amount we would have spent on cards and postage.
    Maybe you should post pictures of some of the cards you have made through the years.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 7, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Love to make Christmas cards. It gives you a chance to put special love into each one as you think of the person it was made for.

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