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History Of Sending And Receiving Christmas cards

The Hallmark card people estimate that each year we buy and make billions of Christmas cards -- finding just the right saying with the nicest picture and the proper envelope.

And then we fill the cards with personalized greetings and reviews of the year's happenings, before sending them off in the mail, hoping they get to their destinations on time.

The practice is more than 150 years old now, at least in the commercial sense.

While homemade cards had been in vogue for a few years, the first commercial card was designed by British artist J.C. Horsely for Sir Henry Cole in 1843.

One-thousand copies of the original were made, depicting good deeds such as clothing the naked and feeding the hungry.

From there, printed cards became popular throughout England and then Germany.

It wasn't until the late 19th century that holiday cards caught on in America.

And gradually, the custom has grown into what it is today -- the busiest card-buying time of the year, with an estimated 2 billion Christmas cards exchanged each year in the U.S. alone.

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