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Christmas Cards

        One of our first holiday tasks is the writing and sending of Christmas cards. The custom began in Great Britain around 1840 with the advent of the "Penny Post" -the first public postal delivery system. Legend tells that a procrastinating Englishman named Henry Cole actually started the tradition. In 1843, he found himself behind in his correspondence with friends and wanted to set things right with a cheery Christmas note to end the year. His resourceful idea led to a mass marketing of holiday cards, particularly after 1860 as printing methods improved. In Britain, sending season's greetings jumped in popularity when a card could be posted in an unsealed envelope for just one half-penny-- half the price of a regular letter. In 1865, Bostonian Louis Prang printed and sold the first Christmas card in the United States. The images and the message have remained fairly constant throughout the years -- pictures showing the Christmas story or other seasonal scenes along with wishes of a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

    - Emilie Barnes, The Twelve Teas of Christmas