Local History Notes

Notes about the history of Iredell County by Joel Reese, Local History Librarian.

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Dec 30

Christmas Cards

Posted on December 30, 2019 at 8:49 AM by Iredell County Public Library

Everyone has a favorite Christmas tradition. My Mom always makes huge pans of Party Mix in the oven to give out to people. She even mailed bags of it overseas to Afghanistan and Iraq when my nephew Jonathan was stationed there. Other people find delight in going to pick out the Christmas tree, decorating the house or in giving out homemade gifts. My sister Brenda and her husband always make a trip to Bristol, Tennessee to buy gifts and look at the lights. I try to listen only to Christmas songs on the radio after Dec. 1st though I do keep a Johnny Cash CD handy for musical emergencies. Years ago I started ordering Christmas Cards from a company called Leanin’ Tree out of Boulder, Colorado. They make really neat Christmas cards with trains on the cover and details about the engines inside the flap. A lot of my family and friends have actually kept their cards over the years and often remark that their “train has come in” when they see me. 

Christmas holiday traditions will be discussed in a special program at the Iredell County Public Library Youth Services Department on Friday, December 12th from 4 to 5 p.m. The title of the program is “A Multi-Cultural Holiday Celebration” and it is aimed at both children and young adults.  The audience will see how Christmas is celebrated here and around the world. The program will look at the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa, and how Christmas is celebrated in Mexico and Ecuador. This free program is sponsored by the Iredell Friends of the Library and will feature guest speakers with stories, music, crafts, games, and refreshments.

Sending out Christmas cards is not for everyone. My Dad says it has to be stamped and mailed. He claims if it is hand delivered it doesn’t count. I know I don’t understand it either. I have people I have mailed cards to for years who have never sent one back. The point is I want them to get a card from me, so I still send them out. The tradition of sending out Christmas cards began in England when Sir Henry Cole commissioned cards that were illustrated by John Callcott in London on May, 1, 1843. The card showed three generations of a family toasting the recipient of the card with a drink. Images of giving food and clothing to the poor helped illustrate the front. These early special-ordered cards rarely showed religious themes or snow scenes. By 1873 Christmas greeting cards hit the mass market in England and in 1874 they began selling in America. Louis Prang was the printer who first produced Christmas cards for the general public and he is sometimes called the “father of the American Christmas card.”

Like letter writing, Christmas cards have become somewhat old fashioned with today’s instant communication. I get Christmas cards now on my computer and phone.  I still like to mail them out and in 2005 some 1.9 billion cards were mailed in the United States alone. Businesses and governments even mail them out.

Author Clyde Edgerton will be featured in a live video conversation by Skype at the library during a “Lunch & Learn” on Wednesday, Dec. 10th at noon and a Radio City Christmas Spectacular will be shown on DVD the following Wednesday, on Dec. 17th at noon. Dessert and beverages will be provided by the Iredell Friends of the Library. Finally on Saturday, Dec.20th,   the Statesville library’s Youth Services Department will host their annual Christmas party from 2 to 3 p.m. with a visit from Santa Claus, music, crafts, and refreshments. For more information contact the library at 704-878-3097.


Joel Reese, Local History Librarian

Iredell County Public Library

This article was published in the Statesville Record and Landmark in December 2014