New Years is the world’s oldest and most widely observed holiday. New Year’s gifts and messages has been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to the 6th century B.C. Early Romans were known to have exchanged gifts symbolizing good will, including pictures on terra cotta tablets with inscriptions wishing a happy and prosperous New Year.
The earliest known holiday greeting cards appeared around 1450 in Germany. Cards from woodcuts were the most prevalent, and often had the Christ Child bearing good wishes for an auspicious New Year.
By 1770, greeting cards had went from woodcuts to finely printed messages. Engravers and printers supplied Europe with major quantities of New Year’s cards. The New Year holiday has become a part of the holiday season, and New Year’s cards are an expression of hope for the future, used by businesses and individuals alike.
Many people send out cards for New Year’s, to stand out from the crowd after the trail of all the Christmas cards have been sent.
The 1st Valentine was sent in 270 A.D. by St. Valentine on the eve of his execution for refusing to renounce Christianity. It was really a note of appreciation to his jailer’s blind daughter for bringing him food and delivering messages during his incarceration, it was signed “from your Valentine.”
The Romans used to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day as the Feast of Lupercalia, dedicated to the pastoral god Lupercus and the Goddess of Love, Juno. Roman maidens would place their names in an urn set up in the public square and courageous bachelors drew from it to obtain their “blind date” for the coming year.
The Christian Church denounced these “love lotteries” as pagan rituals. During the Middle Ages, love lotteries persisted in France as “chance boxes” that allotted couples one year to get married or part company. In England, men wore the name of the girl they drew on their sleeve, encircled with a heart.
Around 1400, written Valentines appeared as quaint love missives, usually given anonymously. In the 1700s, the familiar “roses are red, violets are blue?” verses came about, and in the 1850s, the French began to decorate their Valentines cards with metallic paper, ribbons, lace and other embellishments.
The 1st Valentines in America were exchanged during the Revolution, and were mostly handmade with sentimental verses written in a flowing script. Miss Esther Howland, an imaginative artist and entrepreneur, in 1840 became the 1st publisher of valentines in the US, eventually creating her own publishing firm that specialized in Valentine cards.
Many people send out cards for Valentines Day, to show others how much they love them, or just show that they care.
Easter commemorates the Resurrection of Christ and is the most sacred holy day on the Christian calendar. It is a religious celebration that changes its date each year. The rabbit and the egg are the most popular illustrations for Easter cards. The Easter Bunny started where rabbits were used to symbolize new life. The decorating Easter eggs dates back to the Middle Ages.
Many people send out cards for Easter, to recognize that Christ has Risen, a remembrance of Him, or to offer a salvation message.
Passover celebrates the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and begins on the fifteenth of the month of Nisan on the Jewish calendar in the Spring, and continues for seven days. The name comes from the story when, during the 10th and last and worst plague inflicted on Pharaoh, God passed over the Israelites and struck down only the Egyptian first-born. That night, Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go.
Many people send out cards for Passover to remember this date in the Bible, so God does not bring his wrath like that ever again.
Each year, the 2nd Sunday in May is Mother’s Day, started by Anna M. Jarvis of Grafton, WV in 1907 to honor her mother. Ms. Jarvis spent a good part of her life, after the death of her mother, in a crusade to have the date declared a national holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Congressional resolution declaring, “The American mother is the greatest source of the country’s strength and inspiration.”
Many people send out cards for Mother’s Day to their Mom’s. It has been said that this is the one holiday that almost every one in the world sends out a card.
In 1910, Mrs. John Bruce Dodd of Spokane, WA was the founder of Father’s Day. She was one of 6 brothers and sisters raised by their father, William Smart, after their mother’s death. Mrs. Dodd organized the first Father’s Day celebration, held in Seattle. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that Father’s Day be observed throughout the nation as a holiday.
Many people send out cards for Father’s Day to their Fathers to thank them for providing for them in their youth, and loving them.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
Rosh Hashanah is the 1st two days of the Jewish month of Tishri (in the Fall), and is considered the celebration of the beginning of the Jewish New Year. In the Torah it is the Day of Remembering and was not called Rosh Hashanah the New Year until Talmudic times.
Yom Kippur falls on the 10th of Tishri on the Jewish calendar and brings the end of the 10 days of repentance and atonement that started with Rosh Hashanah. It is the most solemn day of the Jewish year.
The Halloween observance started with the Celtic Druids in 700 B.C. The Druids believed that the souls of the dead returned to inhabit the bodies of the living on October 31. Villagers would don masks and costumes and paraded to through town to trick roving spirits into leaving. October 31 was incorporated into the Christian calendar as All Hallow’s Eve, honoring martyrs and saints. Children wear costumes offered to fast for departed souls in exchange for money or an offering. Irish Catholics fleeing from the potato famine in the 1840s introduced the Halloween observance to the United States, including the practice of carving jack-o lanterns.
In 1620 landing at Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims held a feast to give thanks after gathering their 1st harvest, inviting the local Indians to share in the celebration. This observance is commonly recognized as the first official Thanksgiving. It is a time to count our blessings and give thanks. The family-oriented holiday has the festive dinner with all the trimmings and many watching the annual Thanksgiving parade and football games.
Many people send out cards for Thanksgiving to tell others in their life how they have helped them, to thank them for that. Or just to share how God has been good to them that year.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday coming from the 1st and 2nd Books of the Maccabees and in the works of Josephus and later accounts in the Talmud. The victory of the brave Maccabees against the Greeks with the miracle of the cruse of oil that burned for 8 days instead of 1. The ritual for the holiday is lighting one light of the menorah each night of Hanukkah after sundown, beginning with the 25th of Kislev on the Jewish calendar (December). While a tradition of giving Hanukkah gelt money is an old one, the closeness to Christmas has made gift giving a part of the holiday.
Christmas is the only religious holiday in America that is also a legal holiday. December 25 was selected as the date to observe Christmas by Pope Julius in 349 A.D. The legend of Santa Claus dates back to the 4th-century St. Nicholas, Santa Claus did not become a popular American folk hero until 1822, when Dr. Clement Clarke Moore wrote “A visit from St. Nicholas” for his children.
In 1863, Thomas Nast used Moore’s description to draw a Santa Claus for Harper’s magazine. That became the model for Santa Claus mostly used today.
The 1st Christmas card was produced by London artist John Horsley in 1843, the same year that “A Christmas Carol” was written. The card, created for London businessman Henry Cole, added “Happy New Year” to its message of “Merry Christmas”.
Many people send out cards for Christmas to pass around pictures of their kids, their pets, give updates to family and friends about their year to people they do not see as often, as well as for businesses to connect with their clients in between sales.
Kwanzaa is a 7 day observance stressing the unity of the African-American families. It means “1st fruits of the harvest” in Swahili. It was created by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, Chair of Black Studies at California State University, and is usually celebrated December 26-January 1st. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the 7 Passerines of Kwanzaa, each intended to serve as a guide for daily living: unity, self-determination, collective work & responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Most families share symbolic dinners and exchange handmade gifts with an ethnic theme.