Christmas cards: from origins to present days

The tradition of greeting cards

Christmas cards have been part of our Christmas tradition for over a century. They give us the opportunity to “keep in touch” with old friends we haven’t seen for a long time or with far away relatives, wishing them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The origins:


Long before the first commercial Christmas cards were produced, in Germany, in the fifteenth century, the so-called “Andachtsbilder” appeared, sorts of greeting cards with a votive image (usually there was a picture of baby Jesus) and with the inscription ” Ein gut selig jar “, or” A good and radiant year “.


In the 1700s: 


The use of these cards declined over the next two centuries until 1700, when in England, on the occasion of holidays, elementary school students took large sheets of writing paper, with decorated edges, and wrote messages to their parents, such as ” Love to Dearest Mummy at the Christmas Season “or” Holiday Wishes to Aunt Agatha and Uncle Fred. ” These postcards served to show parents how much their handwriting had improved in the past year.
Although the first Christmas cards had a strong German influence, the invention of the first Christmas card is traced back to a greeting card printed in December 1843 by John Callcott Horsley (1817-1903). At Christmas time, Sir Henry Cole, the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, hand-wrote greeting cards to his family, friends and acquaintances. This job took him a long time, so one day he decided to ask a friend, John Calcott Horsley, to produce a Christmas card for him with a single message that could be duplicated and sent to all his contacts. John Calcott Horsley lithographed and hand-colored 1,000 copies of this “first commercial Christmas card”, of which only 12 are left to date.

At the Loison Museum there’s a collection of over 350 postcards, which allows an exceptional excursus on the transformations, tastes and fashions of society from the end of the nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War. Children pastry chefs, panettone, couples in love, colors and scents of Christmas, portraits of families, these and many more are the subjects that illustrate and tell sweet stories of the past.

What is undoubtedly striking is the Christmas atmosphere represented in these greeting cards. Sent during the holiday season to friends and relatives, the greeting cards held messages of affection and love. Greetings to the past year and good intentions for the one to come.

Loison Pasticceri's Christmas 2020 theme

The Christmas 2020 theme is inspired by the images of these postcards: this year Sonia Design wants to awaken the memories of when children, playing, develop fantasies and find security in themselves. The protagonists of this slice of life are children of collaborators and friends who, in a setting from the early twentieth century, had fun with original and authentic games, to convey to us what is part of our history.