Greeting cards have become a familiar symbol of the holidays.
Today, stores are filled with beautiful and original cards made by variety of techniques. There are even special designers and decorators who manufacture exclusive postcards for any occasion.
A huge range of cards today surprises with its diversity: serious and funny, official and heart, music, humorous, flavored – all what you wish and for what you have imagination. Usually all the cards were painted – landscapes and geographical locations, famous politicians and well-known artists. Today painted postcards stay in demand. On classical ones we see familiar scenes: winter landscape, Christmas tree or church. But the meaning of the card stays clear – to express warmth and humanity, love and feelings, attention and care.
A greeting card has a rich history. And maybe if we learn a bit about this striking phenomenon, about this small piece of cardboard, which was first called as “open letter”, we will change our attitude towards it.
The story of how of the first greeting card appeared comes from the past and is accompanied by a huge number of legends and fairy tales. And sometimes it is difficult to determine what story is real. But there are many arguments that the first card comes from China’s tradition to send a card away during every holiday. In China was used even a special system of card symbols. Thus, the bat meant the wish for happiness, the deer – a reward for the work, the fish was a symbol of wealth and income, and the dragon traditionally promised congratulations of wealth.
In Europe, the first written card was sent to the Duke of Orleans on Valentine’s Day. Today it is kept in the British Museum in London, and is dates from the XV century. The first Christmas cards were issued in 1795; they were made from drawings by the artist Dobson. Even today very popular for the winter card remain the images of drawings festive fir and snow.
The Russian merchants were happy to buy color pictures and write in them congratulatory inscriptions in Russian language. There even have been cases, when greeting cards performed an advertising function and were applied to some expensive and exquisite product. Pre-revolutionary cards in Russia have become even better than foreign ones. For creating a post card was used mostly unexpected materials: dried flowers, feathers, beads, silk and even velvet. But because of the high prices such gifts could be afforded to buy only by rich people.
The greeting cards appeared only due to practical need, and haven’t still lost their original function as type of postal services or as a fast information transfer option. Now the function of greeting cards have much extended and changed, and we perceive them mainly as an attribute of celebration and congratulations.
In the West, there is even a special science, which examines the history and symbolism of the greeting cards. Scientists try to comprehend the phenomena of social consciousness of past eras. However it does not bring us closer to solving the main secret of cards – what allows this little piece of cardboard paper to serve as a guide for the warm feelings of love, respect and gratitude.
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