The History of Easter Cards – Easter Sunday this year will fall on Sunday, April 17th 2022. The Sunday holiday dedicated to Easter celebrations can take place any time between March 22nd and April 25th in accordance with lunar patterns and the ecclesiastical calendar and they celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after His Crucifixion.
A time for family celebrations, if you are unable to meet over the Easter season, sending a card is an alternative option. Whether you are religious or not, sending an Easter card can spread the joy of spring and the welcoming of lighter and warmer days as we come out of the tougher months of winter.
The practise of sending Easter cards began in the late 19th century. The first card was created when an unknown stationer in Victorian England decided to add a greeting to a drawing of a rabbit. This marked the beginning of a tradition that continues through to the present day.
Easter greetings started out in the form of postcards because the early postal service only allowed the address and stamp on the back of the card. However, in 1905 the postal service in Austria and Germany made the decision to separate the back of the cards into two halves, creating the “divided back” shape so there was space for some hand-written correspondence. These postcards often featured popular Easter symbols, natural scenery, well-known buildings and some religious imagery.
In the late 1870’s the introduction of the halfpenny stamp meant that sending postcards could be sent more cheaply than a letter which made it affordable for almost everyone to send their relatives or friends an Easter greeting.
The Victorian people were fond of the unusual and this was clearly demonstrated by the Easter postcards that were sent at that time. For a society often considered “sickly-sweet” and sentimental although deeply principled, their Easter postcards were not particularly religious. They displayed odd imagery such as naked babies using hammers to smash open eggs and chase around the chicks that were in them! Nevertheless, these playful Victorian Easter postcards became something of a craze.
Even though Easter postcards were very popular, people still sent folded Easter cards. Crafting techniques such as fringing, embossing and paper lace were featured. Some of the cards even had images on both sides which were commonly kept as ornamental decorations. The imagery of angels, doves, crosses and religious verse was featured on religious cards and trees, hares, lambs and eggs were depicted on secular cards. Both share the springtime theme by including flowers, doves, and butterflies.
By the time of World War I, the children on Easter greetings were replaced by soldiers with flowers as well as a military-themed Easter bunny in an effort to rally support at home for the troops fighting abroad. After the First World War, the imagery for Easter postcards changed and featured colourful illustrations such as Jesus in the open countryside surrounded by sheep. Cards with flowers were also very common. The cards were often created using chromolithography which is a technique for making multi-coloured prints.
The number of Easter postcards declined through the Second World War and since then the number of cards sent has considerably declined during the past couple of decades due to the invention and convenience of e-cards. However, Easter is the fifth-largest card-sending occasion in the calendar year with an estimated 40 million Easter cards exchanged annually.