Greeting cards are great for communicating our feelings in different ways. Whether you want to share a funny message or a romantic one, greeting cards can surely make any occasion feel more special.

But when did this tradition of handing out greetings cards first start? Let’s take a look at the history of greeting cards and how the practice began in the first place:


Greeting cards in ancient times

The first use of greeting cards came about in ancient China. It was common courtesy and a show of goodwill to exchange positive messages during the New Year, which the Chinese believed brought good luck. Ancient Egyptians adopted this tradition and sent greetings using scrolls of papyrus, also known as ancient paper.


The first greeting cards were sold in Europe

Fast forward to 1415, and people in Europe began selling greeting cards and exchanged them during occasions. More prominently, Valentine’s day greeting cards were the most popular and affordable in the 1800s.


The first Christmas greeting card

In 1843, Sir Henry Cole, a British inventor, hired an artist to design a greeting card that he could send to his friends and family. This was done to celebrate the holiday festivities and share his jolly feelings and holiday spirit. This card is known to be the first Christmas greeting card in history.

While Cole was responsible for the existence of Christmas greeting cards, it wasn’t until Louis Prang, a German immigrant, opened his greeting card shop near Boston in 1856. Prang sold the most Christmas cards in the United States during his time, which earned him the title “Father of the American Christmas card.”


Other forms of greeting cards

Commonly, greeting cards are made of paper, hence the name greeting cards. However, in 1929, the Prince of Wales received the first Christmas greeting that used a rice grain with an inscription on it.


Seasonal and everyday greeting cards

While the very first commercially sold greeting cards were introduced in the form of Valentine’s and Christmas cards, cards for other occasions eventually became popular. Greeting cards were divided into two categories: seasonal and everyday cards.

Seasonal cards were for seasonal holidays including Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and New Year’s Day.

Everyday cards are for special celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, christenings, and more. There are also cards that aren’t specifically given for particular celebrations such as “thank you” cards and “get well soon” cards.


How this changes everything

Giving a variety of greeting cards allowed people to be more creative when sending a message. It paved the way for unique and exciting ways to celebrate special occasions, or just plainly share a heartfelt message, especially during challenging times in the lives of their loved ones.



Greeting cards have a rich, interesting history. Who would’ve thought that the simple act of exchanging paper cards with written messages dates back to Ancient China and Egypt? Understanding this history allows us to be more appreciative of the tradition, encouraging the act of sending out cards with heartfelt messages and making our loved ones feel cared for and appreciated.

If “heartfelt” isn’t really your style, you could try and send funny or rude cards! Check out our online shop in the UK today – we have a wide selection of greeting cards that will surely make an occasion one to remember!