In celebration of the much-loved Easter tradition, Royal Mail recently took a look at the history of card giving during the spring holiday.
According to the Greeting Card Association (CGA), each person in the U.K. buys 33 cards a year—more than any other nation in the world. The GCA’s 2016 U.K. Greeting Card Market Report shows nearly 10 million Easter cards were sent in 2015, an increase of nearly two million from 2015.
The practice 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 still followed today.
THE CARD TAKES SHAPE
Early Easter greetings took the form of a postcard as the early postal service would only allow the address and the stamp on the back of a card. This limited designs to Easter symbols, scenery or well-known buildings.
In 1905, the postal service in Austria and Germany made the decision to separate the back side of the cards into two halves, creating the shape we know today. The right half was for the address and stamp while the other side was left blank for a message.
One year later, the new layout was officially sanctioned at the Universal Postal Union Convention in Rome.
By 1910, lambs, poultry, and eggs featured heavily on cards as a symbol of rebirth. The Easter bunny also appeared frequently with eggs to indicate fruitfulness. Young girls were also popular as a representation of luck and hope.
WWI BROUGHT CHANGES
The First World War saw images of children replaced with those of soldiers with flowers for the first time. The Easter bunny was also given a military makeover in an effort to rally support at home for the troops fighting abroad.
According to the GCA, Easter is now the fifth-most popular holiday in terms of sending cards, ranking behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
For more information, or to see how Easter greetings have changed over the past 119 years, visit gallery.royalmailgroup.com/easter.