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The History of Christmas Cards – The First Christmas Card

For hundreds of years, people have exchanged Christmas greetings. The phrase “Merry Christmas” was first recorded in a Christmas letter delivered in 1534.

In 1611, King James I of England (who was also King James VI of Scotland) received the first known object that resembled a Christmas card. This was more akin to a big decorative text than a card as we know them now. It was folded into panels and measured 84cm x 60cm (33″ x 24″). (it might have been folded so it could be carried around). It included a rose in the center, with a Christmas and New Year greeting to the King and his son inscribed within and around the rose. There were four poems and a song on the manuscript as well – many more than are on the cards now!

Sir Henry Cole pioneered the practice of sending Christmas cards in the United Kingdom in 1843. He was a senior civil servant (government employee) who had assisted with the establishment of the new ‘Public Record Office’ (now known as the Post Office), where he was an Assistant Keeper, and pondered how it could be used more often by regular people.

Sir Henry came up with the concept for Christmas cards with his artist friend John Horsley. They created the first card and sold it for one shilling. (That is only 5p or 8 cents now, but it was worth a lot more back then.) The card was divided into three sections. The outside two panels depicted individuals assisting the needy, while the middle panel depicted a family enjoying a huge Christmas meal! Some people were offended by the card since it depicted a youngster receiving a glass of alcohol! A total of 1000 (or maybe less!) copies were printed and sold. They are now extremely uncommon and may be purchased for hundreds of pounds or dollars! The tagline used to promote the initial cards was: “Just published, a Christmas Congratulations Card; or picture emblematical of old English festivity to perpetuate kind recollections between dear friends”!

The first Christmas Card

 

The first postal service for regular people began in 1840, with the inaugural ‘Penny Post’ public postal delivery (Sir Henry Cole helped to introduce the Penny Post). Prior to it, only the very wealthy could afford to send anything through the mail. Because new trains were being built, the new Post Office was able to sell a penny stamp. These could transport far more mail than the horse and carriage that had previously been utilized. Trains may also go much quicker. Cards were even more popular in the United Kingdom when they could be sent in an unopened envelope for one halfpenny – half the price of a regular letter.

As printing processes developed, Christmas cards became considerably more popular and were mass-produced beginning around 1860. In 1870, the cost of mailing a post card, as well as Christmas cards, was half a cent. This meant that even more individuals could send cards.

The British Museum has an engraved card by the artist William Egley, who illustrated some of Charles Dickens’ novels. By the early 1900s, the practice had expanded throughout Europe, becoming notably popular in Germany.

Christmas cards grew significantly more popular as printing methods improved, and they were mass-produced beginning from 1860. The cost of shipping a post card, as well as Christmas cards, was half a penny in 1870. This meant that even more people could send greeting cards.

The early cards often featured images of the Nativity scene. Robins (a British bird) and snow landscapes were fashionable in the late 1800s. Because of the red uniforms they wore, the postmen were dubbed “Robin Postmen” at the time. Snow images were popular because they reminded people of the extremely harsh winter that occurred in the United Kingdom in 1836.

Christmas cards first emerged in the United States of America in the late 1840s, but they were prohibitively expensive for most individuals. In 1875, Louis Prang, a printer from Germany who had previously worked on early cards in the UK, began mass manufacturing cards so that more people could afford to buy them. Mr. Prang’s initial greeting cards depicted flowers, plants, and children. John C. Hall and two of his brothers founded Hallmark Cards in 1915, and they are still one of the largest card manufacturers today!

Annie Oakley, the famed sniper and star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, sent the first recorded ‘personalised’ Christmas card in 1891. She was in Glasgow, Scotland, for Christmas 1891, and she sent cards back to her friends and relatives in the United States, each with a photograph of herself on it. She’s wearing tartan in the shot since she was in Scotland! Annie allegedly created the cards herself, which were then produced by a local printer.

Homemade cards were fashionable in the 1910s and 1920s. They were frequently odd forms with embellishments like as foil and ribbon. These were generally too fragile to transmit through the mail and had to be delivered by hand.

Nowadays, greeting cards feature a variety of images, including humor, winter sceneries, Santa Claus, and love memories from the past. Charities frequently sell their own Christmas cards to raise funds over the holiday season.

Charities can also profit from the seals or stickers used to seal card envelopes. This tradition began in Denmark in the early 1900s by a postal worker who felt it would be a wonderful way for charities to earn funds while also making the cards more beautiful. It was a huge hit, with over four million sold in the first year! Soon after, Sweden and Norway followed the practice, and it spread throughout Europe and to America.

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Christmas Wreaths are a traditional holiday decoration with an incredibly long and rich history.

The first indication of Christmas is a Christmas wreath hung on the front door of the house. A wreath is a ring-shaped arrangement of flowers, leaves, fruits, and other attractive things. Wreaths, which come in a variety of forms, are an important element of Christmas decorations. Wreaths are commonly hung on doorways, walls, and over fireplaces. Wreaths are traditionally made using evergreen branches. Wreaths are now available in synthetic materials, which have a significantly longer shelf life.

Northern and eastern Europeans began carrying evergreens home throughout the winter in the 16th century, with Germans being credited with originating the Christmas tree tradition. Pruning the tree was part of the preparatory procedure during this time. Collins states in his book, “Limbs were often cut off in an attempt to make the tree more uniform in shape or to fit into a room,” Instead of discarding the leftover foliage, Europeans braided it into wreaths.

“These people were living in a time when everything in their lives was used until it was gone,” Collins remarks.

Apart from the aesthetic and functional reasons for bending the tree, there was also a spiritual importance for Christians to exercise. “It was crucial to form the trees into a triangle to reflect the Trinity,” Collins explains. According to Catholic tradition, in the seventh century, Saint Boniface, an English monk, used the three points of an evergreen tree to illustrate the notion of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Before the wreath became associated with Christmas, it was a prominent emblem of victory and power in ancient Greece and Rome. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, after the nymph Daphne rejected the God Apollo and escaped from him by turning into a laurel tree, Apollo says, “Since you cannot be my wife, you shall surely be my tree. O laurel, I shall for ever have you in my hair, on my lyre and quiver.” The passage inspired art such as the marble statue “Apollo Crowning Himself,” reinforcing the imagery of Roman and Grecian gods donning the green crown.

The evergreen tree, which was used to make the wreaths, was also essential. Evergreen trees were regarded with awe and reverence because, unlike other living things, they withstood the rigors of winter. People took the trees into their homes once they emerged in abundance in northern and eastern Europe.

Among non-deities, the wreath had a similar meaning. “Athletes who were successful in the Panhellenic games were crowned with wreaths of olives (Olympia), laurel (Delphi), wild celery (Nemea), and pine (Isthmia),” says Mireille M. Lee in Body, Dress, and Identity in Ancient Greece. A crown of leaves or flowers signified honor and delight outside of competitions. The wreath was characterized as “the adornment of the priest performing sacrifice, of the hero returning from triumph, of the bride at her wedding, and of the guests at a feast.”

However, Christmas wreaths added a fresh layer of significance to an ancient concept. Such wreaths were initially used as Christmas tree ornaments, rather than as stand-alone decorations as we know them now. They were fashioned into a wheel-like shape for practical reasons — it was easy to hang a circle onto the branches of a tree — but the design was also significant as a symbol of heavenly perfection. Because the form has no beginning and no finish, it signified eternity. “That was a symbol to them of power, of resilience, and in a way, of hope,” Collins says.

The wreath represents perpetual life because of its circular form and evergreen substance. It is also a sign of faith, since Christians in Europe used to set a candle on the wreath during Advent to symbolise the light that Jesus brought into the world. Johann Hinrich Wichern, a German Lutheran priest, is widely credited for popularizing the Advent wreath and burning candles of various sizes and colors in a circle as Christmas neared.

There are four candles in all in that tradition, one for each week of Advent. Collins writes in his book that three of the candles, which were typically purple, signified the Christian ideals of hope, peace, and love. “The last candle, most commonly crimson in color,” he adds, “represented the pleasure of new life obtained through the gift of Christ’s suffering on the cross.” On Christmas Eve, a white candle was lit to commemorate Jesus’ birth.

The Advent wreath, like many other Christmas customs from Northern and Eastern Europe, was popularized by the masses in the nineteenth century. Collins claims that the marriage of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom to Prince Albert of Germany allowed Christmas customs from other parts of Europe to become popular in England. In turn, American culture was affected by British culture. Literature such as Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit From St. Nicholas aided in the spread of Christmas traditions such as wreath decoration.

Despite its widespread popularity today, the wreath started with humble beginnings.

We live in a throwaway culture, the wreath was born out of not throwing things away.

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History of Candy Canes: From the Iconic Shape to Flavor

The very first candy cane was nothing like what we know today. They were white, straight, and the only flavor was the pure sweet sugar that was used to make them.

When Christmas trees became a prominent feature of the holiday season, they were adorned with food items such as strung popcorn and white sugar sticks.

The first documented use of the term “candy canes” for these sweet candy sticks was in 1866, and they became a yearly Christmas tradition less than ten years later.

Timeline of Candy Canes

The candy cane has been around for almost 350 years. Although certain details are obscure, like as who invented the candy cane, you can see how this delicious delicacy grew into a Christmas classic.

While there are several stories regarding the origins of the candy cane, no one knows for certain who created this classic confection. According to the History Channel, one plausible version is that the peppermint candy was developed in 1670 by a choirmaster at Germany’s Cologne Cathedral to assist keep fidgety choirboys quiet and attentive during a creche ceremony. If this narrative is accurate, the hook form may be a shepherd’s crook, although this is not definite.

1670- The Candy Cane Could May Have Been Invented

While there are several stories regarding the origins of the candy cane, no one knows for certain who created this classic confection. According to the History Channel, one plausible version is that the peppermint candy was developed in 1670 by a choirmaster at Germany’s Cologne Cathedral to assist keep fidgety choirboys quiet and attentive during a creche ceremony. If this narrative is accurate, the hook form may be a shepherd’s crook, although this is not definite.

1700 – Pulled Sugar Candies are a popular confection in Germany.

According to Susan Benjamin of True Treats Candy, pulled sugar sweets were popular in 17th century Germany. These drawn sugar sweets were entirely white during the 1700s, and the hook may have evolved later as a way of hanging the candy cane on a Christmas tree. The hook design made it simpler to hang cookies, candies, and other treats on the Christmas tree, which was a German Christmas custom.

1844 – Recipe for Striped Peppermint Stick Candy has been published.

Eleanor Parkinson’s 1844 book The Complete Confectioner, Pastry-Cook, and Baker featured a recipe for color-striped peppermint sticks. The book includes extensive directions for leaving the majority of the candy white and dyeing a tiny bit another color, then rolling the two colors together to make a twisted, striped design.

 

1847 – The Very First Modern White Candy Cane

According to Benjamin, the candy cane in its present form was invented by August Imgard, a Swedish and German immigrant who resided in Ohio. Although the delicious treat did not have the familiar red-striped pattern, it did feature the iconic candy cane form. It was also used to decorate a Christmas tree with paper ornaments.

1900 – Candy Canes Change Colors to Red and White

Red and white candy canes became popular about 1900, according to the Smithsonian, by merging the original red-striped peppermint stick with the hook form. Because these candy canes were handcrafted, they were fairly expensive and prone to breakage.

1920 – McCormack begins manufacturing candy canes

Bob McCormack of Georgia, USA, began manufacturing candy canes to present to his family, friends, and neighborhood youngsters. The fame rose by leaps and bounds.Bob McCormack established his own company, which was initially called as “Famous Candy Company” and was subsequently renamed “Bob’s Candies.” The production quantity was restricted due to the labor-intensive process of hand-forming each candy cane, and the breakage rate was more than 20%.

1957 – Automated Candy Cane Machine Invented

Bob McCormack’s brother-in-law, Gregory Harding Keller, was studying to be a priest in Rome, Italy. During the summers, he returned home and worked in the candy factory. Gregory created a contraption to automate the candy cane producing process. This equipment, known as the “Keller Machine,” mechanically rotated and curved the candies while also cutting them at the same lengths, saving time and waste.

Gregory is believed to have given these hooked candy sticks to youngsters in church to keep them calm during long services. Bob’s Candies was the first company to mass-produce and sell candy canes. Bob’s Candies has been in business for almost eighty years.

2005 – Farley and Sather’s purchased Bob’s Candies

Farley and Sather’s purchased Bob’s Candies in 2005, and candy canes are still part of their product range.

It’s more than simply a piece of candy.

Christians like the simple sugar cane because they feel it represents a variety of symbols:

  • When the hook is turned upside down, it forms the letter “J” for Jesus.
  • The white reflects Jesus’ purity.
  • The three (3) red stripes signify the Holy Trinity and Christ’s blood.
  • According to legend, the hardness of the candy represents Jesus as a solid rock.
  • The typical peppermint taste is a nod to Hyssop, a herb used for cleansing in the Old Testament.

Interesting Candy Cane Facts

Many people nowadays utilize candy canes to construct holiday wreaths, candy cane desserts, or just to adorn a Christmas tree. The following candy cane statistics, according to the National Confectioners Association, demonstrate that the modern candy cane is a classic Christmas delicacy that is more popular than ever:

  • The world’s biggest candy cane measured 51 feet in length.
  • Every year, around 1.75 billion candy canes are produced.
  • The majority of candy canes (more than 90%) are purchased between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • The biggest sales occur during the second week of December.
  • Candy canes outsell all other non-chocolate confections when it comes to candies sold in December.
  • The flavor variety has grown beyond the traditional peppermint, with some unusual varieties such as “pickle,” “bacon,” and “bubble gum” available.   Try a “sriracha” or “wasabi” flavored sugar cane for those who prefer it spicy.
  • People chew candy canes from the straight end 58 percent of the time and the curved end 30 percent of the time. To consume the candy, the remaining 12% split it up.

Christmas Candy Canes: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do reindeers really like candy canes?

Candy canes have a highly sweet flavor, and reindeers enjoy anything with a sweet flavor. Aside from the sweetness of the Candy Canes, they also have a mint flavor to them, which might cause stomach aches in the reindeer after eating.

Are candy canes only for Christmas?

Candy canes aren’t just for the holiday season. They may also be used to commemorate children’s birthdays and other pleasant and joyful occasions. Candy canes in red and white colors are the most often used on Christmas Eve.

Why is Peppermint a Christmas flavor?

In the year 1670, a choirmaster presented numerous candies to the people and children who were performing in the nativity play. This is how the peppermint mint flavor is thought to have been introduced to the occasion of Christmas Eve.

What do the colors on the candy cane mean?

The sugar cane has a form that represents Jesus. Candy canes are often red and white in hue. The white hue represents Jesus Christ’s purity, while the crimson color represents Jesus Christ’s blood.

Are candy canes’ religious symbols?

The candy cane is designed in the shape of the letter J. The letter J represents Jesus Christ’s name. Furthermore, the colors red and white represent the peace and purity of Jesus Christ, as well as the blood of Jesus Christ.

What is the symbol of the candy cane?

The candy cane is shaped like the letter J. This J represents the initial letter of Jesus’ name. As a result, the shape of the letter J has been chosen for the specific candy cane in order to make it popular during Christmas Eve.

Is there a candy cane Emoji?

Yes, the candy cane emoji can be seen in the most recent version of WhatsApp. Aside from the candy cane emoji, numerous more emojis connected to toffee and chocolate can be found in many chat applications.


A Significant Christmas Tradition

The rich history of candy canes adds to their allure. These traditional sweets are just a necessary part of the holiday season. Candy canes can be used to decorate in a variety of ways, including attaching them to gifts or taping them to Christmas cards. You may even use a candy cane motif to adorn your Christmas tree. Whatever you select, you’ll be aware that you’re consuming a delicacy with a 350-year history and a particular place in the Christmas ritual.

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Christmas Pickle, The True Story Behind a Zany Holiday Tradition

If you’re anything like me, you’re either laughing out loud or ashamed that you’ve never heard of the famed Christmas Pickle Tradition. That being said, you may have heard of it but know very nothing about it. Don’t worry. This page will go into great detail on the origins, history, and tradition itself.

Christmas Day begins with a frenzied quest in many households (including mine). Kids and adults alike search the tree for a little green pickle-shaped ornament concealed among its branches. The person who discovers the pickle gets to open the first gift and brag about it for the rest of the year. It begins the day off with a lot of laughs and a little friendly competition, which is exactly how our tribe loves it. I’m not sure where our pickle originated from; all I know is that it’s been in the family for as long as anyone can remember. So we looked into the history of the Christmas pickle to find out what it is that keeps us seeking to this day.


The origins of the Christmas pickle are hazy.

If we know one thing about Christmas, it’s that tales abound. One of them claims that that in the American Civil War, there was a soldier named Pvt. John C. Lower who fought for the Union side. This soldier was born in Bavaria, which is today a part of Germany. The Confederate Army imprisoned him in Andersonville, Georgia at one time. He was dying of starvation and battling for his life. When he asked a guard for a pickle, the guard felt sorry for him. According to family lore, Pvt. John C. Lower acquired the required strength and mental endurance to endure this predicament via the astoundingly calm mercy of Almighty God. When he ultimately returned to his family, he began a pickle tradition in which a pickle was hidden in the Christmas tree for someone to uncover. The finder would experience prosperity and good fortune in the coming year.

Another narrative, based on a medieval legend, is popular in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Berrien Springs has been designated as the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World, with an annual pickle festival held during the first half of December. According to legend, St. Nicholas saved two Spanish boys. They were boarding students returning home for the holidays. They stayed at an inn on their way home, when the evil innkeeper murdered them and placed them in a pickle barrel. When St. Nicholas stopped at the same inn, he discovered the lads in the barrel and brought them back to life.

The most likely story, however, has it this way, and makes sense with the two tales. Woolworths began selling blown-glass decorations imported from Germany in the 1880s, some of which were shaped like fruits and vegetables. Around the same period, a legend spread that Germans placed a pickle as the final ornament on their Christmas tree. The youngster who found the pickle first got to unwrap one additional gift. However, when Americans contacted the Old Country, the majority of Germans had never heard of the practice. According to popular belief, the story was concocted by a smart salesperson in order to sell more pickle ornaments, and if today’s trees are any indicator, it appears to have succeeded.

The History of the Christmas Pickle Tradition

Christmas Pickle Ornament German tradition Blown Glass

The truth of the enthralling Christmas Pickle custom may never be discovered. But remember how, in the 1800s, glass Christmas decorations were handcrafted and hand-produced in Germany before being carefully shipped across the Atlantic to the United States of America? Glass-blowing was practiced in a tiny hamlet named Lauscha as early as 1597, according to historical texts. Lauscha is located in the German state of Thuringia. The town is well-known for its glass-blowing. Glassblowers would make drinking glasses and glass containers. In 1847, a few Lauscha artisans began manufacturing Glasschmuck, or glass decorations. They were fashioned in the form of several common fruits and tree nuts.

Hand blowing and molds are used to create these one-of-a-kind glass decorations. Soon after they were produced, the decorations were shipped to all regions of Europe, England, and the United States.

Lauscha-made glass pickle decorations are now available in the United States, having been imported from Germany. While it appears that many Germans have never even heard of the Christmas Pickle Custom, these pickle decorations are marketed alongside a “German” tradition tale. All we know is that the pickle decorations were marketed in many parts of Germany, particularly in the districts that run from Höxter in North Rhine-Westphalia all the way through to Kissing in Bavaria. Perhaps the Germans are simply exceptionally skilled at keeping secrets hidden.

How popular is this tradition?

The Christmas Pickle Paperback

With all of the uncertainty surrounding the custom, and the blank expressions that typically accompany individuals who are confronted with the question, how popular is the ritual? According to a YouGov poll, just 7% of Germans had ever heard of the custom, also known as “Weihnachtsgurke,” and only around 2-6% of Germans (with children) who know about the tradition actually perform it!

That being said, in the early 1980s, a store named Old World Christmas began selling these traditional, mouth-blown glass pickle decorations manufactured in Lausch, Germany (along with other glass-blown ornaments). For the past 37 years, the pickle ornament has been their best-seller. In 2017, they sold over 25,000 units. The story featured on the box might have been written by the company’s founder, Tim Merck. We may never find out.

What do the pickle decorations look?

The pickle decorations have the appearance of, well, pickles. They’re composed of either glossy or matte green glass (rather than actual pickles). Some might be highly intricate, while others are not. Others may be personified as having eyes and a mouth and wearing hats and scarves. A few of pickle slices are additional decoration.

Where can I get a pickle ornament?

Traditional pickle Christmas decorations may be purchased online from a variety of sources, including Amazon and other smaller retailers. Take a time to read the site’s own narrative on the origins and traditions of the notorious Christmas Pickle ornament!

Conclusion

That’s all there is to it. While we don’t know the exact tale behind the Christmas pickle, it could be more thrilling to embrace it as a mystery. Regardless, the custom may be continued by hanging the pickle ornament last and hiding it. The first person to discover it will undoubtedly have excellent success in the next year.

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