Sunday, December 17, 2006

What do you know about Holiday Cards?

The Mini Page from our Houston Chronicle this week talked all about Christmas cards. The article was written by Betty Debnam. I thought it was intriguing enough to post.

Americans send out about 2 billion Christmas cards every year. People also send out Hanukkah and Kwanzaa cards. An Englishman named Henry Cole was the first to develop a Christmas card he could send to all his friends. In 1843 he was too busy to send out his own messages, so he hired an artist, John Calcott Horsley, to design a card. This card shows scenes of people feeding and clothing the needy. In the center a family celebrates the holiday. Sending Christmas cards has been a tradition ever since.

Some images, such as snowmen, Santa and trees, have been popular since the mid-1800’s. Other designs and colors change with the times. In the 1930’s, for example, people were just beginning to flock to movies. Firm stars such as Mickey Mouse were popular card images. In the 1940’s, during World War II, Christmas cards were filled with patriotic messages and the hope that the troops would come home. In the 1970’s, bright, psychedelic colors and peace symbols were popular. Cards honoring the birth of Christ did not become popular until the 1900’s. Today the Nativity is one of the most popular themes. Christmas cards make up 60 % of all holiday cards sold. More cards are sold for Christmas than for all other holidays combines.

New technology adds fun to holiday cards. In regular and e-mail cards, people can open a card and hear music or movie audio clips, or can see lights and moving figures. Experts say that e-mail cards have not seemed to cut into the sales of regular mail cards. The number of holiday cards mailed has been at about the same level for the last five years. (This statement surprised me because I thought with the price of a stamp, that the amount of cards mailed would have gone down. I do have to say that I mailed out about 60 cards this year.)

The Monday before Christmas is the busiest day of the year for mailing cards and packages. About 280 million cards and letters are usually mailed out that day. (Thank goodness I already have my packages and cards mailed.) This year, this busy day will be Dec. 18. The biggest day or the postal carriers delivering the mail is two days later.

Since 1962, the U.S. Postal service has created new winter holiday stamps each year. It issues a new traditional, religious Christmas stamp and new non-religious Christmas stamps every year. The Postal Service also has created special stamps for other winter holidays. The demand for these stamps is not as great as for the Christmas stamps, so the same designs may be re-issued several years in a row. The Postal Service designs its traditional Christmas stamps with works of art about the birth of Christ. Since 1978 the P.S. has chosen a work of art featuring the Madonna holding the baby Jesus. This year, the P.S. chose a painting by Ignacio Chacon, and artist in Peru in the mid-1700’s. This painting is now on display at the Denver Art Museum. This year the P.S. has also issued stamps for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and an Eid stamp for the Muslim World.

On a side note: I read an article in our Houston Chronicle food section several weeks ago about a “no knead” bread recipe that was developed by a baker. Evidentially it was so intriguing, and revolutionary, that it caused a real stir and it had a follow up article last Wednesday. I can’t wait to give this a try, this week, and then I will write about it on my blog.

Frig Clip from the Washington Post: What is the difference between Teflon and Silverstone pans?
Silverstone nonstick coating is made with Teflon (PTFE), plus another polymer called PFA. It can be treated the same as Teflon. A word to the wise: Cheap nonstick pans, being light and thin compared to heavy (and expensive) big-named brands, will heat unevenly, developing hot spots that mimic the heat pattern of the burner beneath. Even with food in the pan, these hot spots can reach Teflon-destroying temperatures, shortening the life of the pan and raising the probability of toxic-fume emissions.

Glazed Squash:
Slice squash, up to 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Serve squash hot or at room temperature.
1) Vegetable oil, for baking sheets
2) 3 Acorn squash (about 1 ½ pounds each), halved, seeded and sliced into 1- inch thick crescents.
3) Coarse salt and ground black pepper.
4) ½ cup packed dark brown sugar.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil and brush with oil.

Place squash on baking sheets. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle squash as evenly as possible with ¼ cup sugar. Roast until sugar has melted, about 5 minutes.

Turn squash over. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly with remaining ¼ cup sugar. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.

Have a great week everyone!


At 6:21 PM, Blogger Fred said...

We send out about 30 a year, and have them in the mail the first week in December. I always download a picture to, and they mail the cards to the house. It's a great system.

I never learned to like squash. The Missus likes it, but since none of us will eat it, she only gets it when we go out to eat.

Have a great week, too, Lucy. We're off to Disney tomorrow, and will be back on Friday. Then I'll sleep all weekend.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

Very interesting stuff!! I mailed probably about 40 cards and then I hand out about 25 more! I keep saying I'll cut down but never do! I mailed mine the early part of December! Glad I didn't wait until this week!!

At 2:27 PM, Blogger Oh great One said...

I can't wait to hear about your bread experiment!

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Big Dave T said...

I do a holiday family newsletter, so our cards don't go out until I have the newsletter composed. This year, our cards (about 20 or so) went out last Thursday.

Wendy likes to find an Xmas card with mice on it. She doesn't like mice, so I can't figure why.

My younger son asked the post office clerk for some Xmas snowflake stamps. When he got home, he discovered he got Kwanzaa stamps instead.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Great post, Lucy!

I wonder to what extent e-cards are replacing actual holiday cards? I, for one, seem to send more of them out than ever these days.

Happy Holidays.

At 12:59 PM, Blogger Mountain Mama said...

Thanks for telling about the Madonna stamp I'm using on my cards this year. It is a beautiful picture.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Fred, have fun at Disney and Merry Christmas to you, the Missus and the girls...

Rachel - I got my cards out later than usual but not too late.

Oh great one - Still working on the bread experiment. I'll blog on it after Christmas.

Big Dave - What did he do with the Kawanza stamps?

Barb - from what I have read, email hasn't put much of a dent in the "snail mail" of Christmas cards.. Go figure...

Mountain Mama - That Madonna stamp is beautiful, it is the one I used too.

At 11:54 PM, Blogger NoSurfGirl said...

Ooh ooh ooh, a squash recipe!

Speaking of cards, I know a really cool cardmaker-- You might know her too.

At 3:09 AM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

I used to love cards; I even had a collection of them.
I have succumbed to the technological age though and have stopped buying them.

Interesting to find out the history of the holiday card.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Lucy ~ Thanks for the nice post on my blog! I hope you and your family have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! ~ jb///

At 8:00 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

Lucy, this was an interesting post about Christmas cards. I knew how Christmas cards got started, but I didn't know how they evolved over the many years.

I sent out about 60 or so cards this year myself. Each year I include a Christmas letter in with the cards that go to people we do not see or talk to very often. I usually include a picture on the letter or with it of our grandchildren. We have 14 now. I am able to get the photo right off my computer thanks to the digital camera. So, I just print the photo on the back of the letter usually. Today's technology is great for that purpose.

We like getting letters from our friends at Christmas as well as photos of our friends' grandchildren, too. We are all at that age. All those sweet little faces warm our hearts.

Merry Christmas!

At 11:33 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

nosurfgirl - I am always on the look out for squash recipes, I love squash.

Prag - it is interesting to learn these things. I don't usually send out e-cards. I do enjoy getting them though.

lz blogger - Thanks and Merry Christmas to you too.

susieq - I try to write personal notes on each on of my cards. I haven't gotten into the newsletters yet, but I enjoy reading them...Merry Christmas to you and your family....

At 1:01 AM, Blogger Live, Love, Laugh said...

wow, this was interesting and I will have to try out this recipe!

At 8:15 PM, Blogger DayByDay4-2Day said...

At my last place of work they collected the fronts and donated them to a charity. I wish this new place did that.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Merry Christmas to the Stern family!

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Jaime said...

Thank you for the squash recipe! I've got a box of acorn squash that I've not cooked yet as I don't know how.

Merry Christmas!

At 1:34 PM, Blogger An80sNut said...

If anything, your post about holiday cards has forced me to consider breaking my habit of not sending one out. My brother (wife and kids) and sister (husband and kids) do every year but I think it's also to share a family picture with the rest of the family. Thank you for making me think about my own routine even though it definitely wasn't meant to do so.

Happy Holidays

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I'm surprised also that the number of snail mail cards has remained steady. It seems that the ease and inexpensive email cards would have caused "real" cards to decline. I'm glad to hear that people are still buying and sending real cards!! I enjoying sending them and receiving them.

Happy Holidays to you!!!
I hope 2007 brings you much joy and blessing.

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Leslie said...

Interesting stuff about cards. And your sqash recipe looks so yummy! Hope you had a very merry Christmas!

At 10:09 PM, Anonymous ambar said...

Interesting blog. Will definitely enjoy reading in the future. I need to think more on a frugal note! Sorry to be off topic.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Merle said...

Hi Lucy ~ A very informative post as usual. I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and I would like to wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous
New Year. Now 2007 is here, I hope it will be a good one for you and your family. Take care, Love, Merle.

At 7:29 PM, Blogger curious servant said...

The story on the cards was fun to read. Thanks.

Happy new year lucy!

At 9:34 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Happy New Year Lucy :o)

At 7:03 AM, Blogger fairscape said...

Happy New Year!


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