C272_1-3.1 | Christmas Visions

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Complimentary card
Christmas Visions
1885, 19th century
Coloured ink on paper
18 x 20.5 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Complimentary card (1)
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Keys to History


New products, new business practices and the enthusiasm for consumption all had a significant impact on the culture. Some religious holidays were particularly affected. The commercialization of Christmas began in the Victorian era, especially among English Protestants. Religious services and a traditional Christmas meal were now joined by Christmas trees decorated with lights, glass balls and knickknacks. For children, Christmas became Father Christmas's holiday. Santa Claus made his appearance in Canadian magazines in the mid-1870s. And what would Christmas be without presents? Retailers heaped advice upon consumers and advertisements proclaimed: "Christmas presents! New Year's gifts!" Among French Canadians, Christmas maintained its essentially religious character for much longer, and New Year's was the focus of secular rejoicing.

  • What

    This card, titled Christmas Visions, neatly sums up the Victorian idea of Christmas. It incorporates all the symbols of the holiday: the tree with candles, Santa Claus in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and lots of toys.

  • Where

    This card was made in the United States by Prang. The first companies to produce Christmas cards were English, but American and German competitors started up in the 1870s and 1880s.

  • When

    Christmas cards made their appearance in 1843 and soon became very popular. This card was sent in 1885; it was probably produced around the same time.

  • Who

    Louis Prang, an American, invented a multicolour lithographic process that could reproduce works of art. He applied the process to the manufacture of greetings cards. In the 1880s his company printed millions of cards.