The tradition of sending Christmas cards originated in England in the mid-1800s and became popular in America when greeting cards were produced in around 1875. Today the custom continues across the nation from house to from house, even from the White House. The tradition of Presidential Christmas cards began during the Presidency of Calvin Coolidge. In 1927 He began the tradition of sending a Presidential Christmas Message. The Truman Presidency continued the tradition of giving Christmas cards by giving both small and large Cards. Although the numbers of card given was limited, the large cards were most rare and given only to presidential staff members, personal friends, and family. Since the Truman era both small and large cards have been given. The large cards continue to be much rarer than the smaller cards.
In 1923 President Coolidge also began the tradition of lighting a National Community Christmas Tree. That tradition continues today along with sending Christmas messages, holiday greetings and Christmas cards from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW in Washington, DC.
For a more extensive discussion of the history of White House Christmas cards click here.
Local views on Christmas cards this year:
The tradition of sending out Christmas cards continues in the White House in the Nation’s Capital, but what about the little white house down the street? In discussing with local residents their plans for sending out Christmas cards this year, the responses were varied:
Some families make Christmas cards as a family project and send them out. Others prepare a Christmas newsletter filled with family details. Some families still send out cards with a family portrait each year. Because of the economy, some local residents are sending out fewer cards this year, and some are sending out none. An increasing number of people are sending Christmas e-cards, which can be sent out in batches of 100. The website eHow.com shows how to send free Christmas e-cards. Of course, some people may be offended by mass-produced email Christmas greetings, in which case, you would probably want to send a personal handwritten card.
Whether handwritten, stamped and sent by the traditional “snail mail” or electronically dispatched as “email” in batches of 100, the tradition of sending Christmas cards continues.
Click here to view a slideshow of Christmas cards from a number of Presidents from Hoover to Obama.
The video features a time lapse entry from the White House blog, showing the setting up of the White House Christmas tree for 2012.