The Art of Christmas

One of the most common forms of art we experience at Christmas time, is the Christmas card. I find it interesting to discover that they weren't created until the 1840's. We didn't start producing our own cards in the US until the 1870's.

Since that time, it has become quite a tradition to send them to friends and family -- though things seem to have died down a little due to cost of cards, stamps and people returning the favor...grin.

Christmas cards can be amazingly elaborate and large, or cute and small or simple and cheap. Many people have gotten into making them themselves, and those are kind of cool. One of the most popular things right now are photo cards, where a family portrait is taken and then put on a Christmas card. I've gotten several of them from my sister and her family.

The photo cards are kind of fun because they show you how family members are growing and changing. Usually it's a shot of the current baby, or just the children.

We've never gone in for the family card. I guess part of it is you have to be a little bit organized to get the portraits taken in time to get them printed and sent out for Christmas. Sending them in January kind of defeats the purpose...grin.

But I love getting Christmas cards. I like to see what people will pick, whether it's pertaining to Christ, or Santa Clause. I have also been known to save them and put them in frames for Christmas time. I had several that I used to hang up every year, but they finally fell apart.

Some of the most well known scenes were those created by Currier and Ives. They have been made famous by some movies made back in the 50's, and are still some of the most thought of when one imagines Christmas scenes. Currier and Ives were a printing company that did lithographs. I had no idea that they had the colors added to their prints one color at a time. Kind of interesting to read up on them.

Especially since they've been out of business since 1907. Apparently their prints are now collectors items, and if you happen to be lucky enough to have one in your possession, you're doing good.

I also find it interesting that we tend to think of Christmas in terms of the past, rather than the present. The past seems to be recognized as more romantic.

For me, romance is typified by the Victorian era, and the art of that time. But that's something I'm going to cover next week. Have you got your cards sent yet? Neither have I.

Return to the Neighborhood.


Sandra said…
I love Currier and Ives. I would love to live in one of their houses.
Nichole Giles said…
Good blog, Gaynell. I once had a cousin who sent New Years cards--in January. They had a new baby in December and wanted to wait until the baby was old enough to go out for a family portrait to send them. It was fun to get a card when we thought all the festivities were over.

Cindy Beck said…
What a great way to start out your discussion of Christmas art by talking about the history of Christmas cards!

Some cards are quite beautiful, and I keep those from year to year. Others are cute and fun ... I recyle and use them for Christmas tags the next year.
Tristi Pinkston said…
I think e-mail has taken a lot of the Christmas card business, too - it's so much cheaper to send e-mail cards. Yeah, I confess, I'm one of *those.*

You are so right about Currier and Ives - going back to something so timeless just seems to be the essence of Christmas.
Karlene said…
I love Christmas cards--sending them and receiving them. I hand sign, stuff in a Christmas letter, and mail out about 70 each year. (Then I don't have to feel guilty about not writing/calling the rest of the year.)

But you're right about the decline. Here it is Dec. 8th and I've only gotten one card. :(

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