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The History of Greeting Cards

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

For centuries, greeting cards have been a warm way to encourage, celebrate, and relish the festivities of life. In America alone, the greeting card industry is worth about 7.5 billion dollars. But how and where did this all begin?

Some of the first greeting cards were used to celebrate new years., In ancient China, the Chinese people gave cards to one another to celebrate the New Year. Egyptians had a similar tradition, writing their messages on papyrus scrolls. During the 14th century, some Germans would send their greetings via personalized wood carvings or with paper, invented by the Chinese in 100 A.D.

During the Renaissance period, art and literature became increasingly significant in European society, influencing the creation of more greeting cards. These greeting cards were elaborate handcrafted, unique creations, made personal to their recipients. However, greeting cards were quite expensive at this time, since it took a while for them to be made. They were often associated with the wealthy.

The 1800’s gave birth to a new era of greeting cards for the European nations, for two main reasons. The first was the fact that there was now a widespread postal service, which was able to take mail and packages to many places very quickly. The second reason was because of Johannes Gutenberg, who updated and mechanized the printing press. Although the hand-powered version had been in use since the 14th century, it’s update caused it to be able to produce documents faster. This led to the mass production of greeting cards at a price that could be sold for cheap, enabling just about anyone to purchase them.

Today, greeting cards are used on many different occasions, from birthdays to holidays and everything in between, and even though e-cards and digitized greetings have caused a slight decline in the purchase of physical greeting cards, Americans still buy around 6.5 billion cards each year! So, the next time you pick out a card for a friend or family member, think of the long history associated with this wondrous invention.

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