1995 32¢ Santa with Sled
Issue Date: September 30, 1995
City: North Pole, NY
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: Serpentine die cut 11.25
The age-old custom of sending Christmas cards actually dates back to Roman times when friends sent one another New Year’s greetings. But it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that visitors began to leave Christmas greetings written on their calling cards. Eventually people began creating personal Christmas cards, and in 1862 the idea caught on commercially.
Louis Prang, an enterprising German immigrant, popularized the custom here in America. At a Vienna exhibition in 1873, Prang publicized his works by handing out business cards with lifelike flowers printed on them. The cards proved so popular, the wife of his London agent suggested he print Christmas mottoes on them and sell them as Christmas greetings. The cards sold so well, the following year Prang introduced them in the United States. Similar to Victorian valentines, these early Christmas cards pictured bouquets of flowers, seashells, and butterflies. By the end of the 1870s, his cards featured distinctively holiday themes.
Ultimately it was the penny post card that revolutionized the Christmas card business. Three of the contemporary Christmas stamps are based on Victorian postcards, while the fourth, “Santa on a rooftop,” is from a writing tablet cover. The early English Puritans who settled America wanted nothing to do with the Roman Church’s “Christ-mass.” Since the actual day of Christ’s birth had been lost, and December 25th had merely been assigned by the Roman Catholics, they declared Christmas was a human invention.
But despite the opposition, Christmas managed to survive. Settlers from other parts of Europe brought with them their traditions of celebrating Christmas and gradually these Old World customs were blended together to create what has become the most popular day of the year – one that for children and adults alike is filled with magic, wonder, and excitement.