Are Christmas Cards Being Stamped Out?

While the first Christmas card has gone on public display in London’s Dickens Museum, the future of the 176-year-old tradition is uncertain as letter posting rates plummet.

“A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You”, the first-known Christmas card read.

The coloured triptych featuring a wholesome family meal from 1843 launched the tradition of sending Christmas cards.

The first Christmas card was designed by Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley. Photo: Reuters

Initially, the idea almost flopped, with very little money made from the one thousand printed cards that sold for a shilling each.

Now, Australians spend around $500 million on greeting cards with each person receiving 22 or so annually, according to the Australian Greeting Card Association.

However, the tradition may be coming full circle and returning to its slow start as rates of letter posting decline.

Posting Christmas cards could become a thing of the past. Photo:
Dan Brownsword via Getty Images

Australia Post concedes in its latest annual report that the past decade has changed the business significantly.

“In 2008, Australian letter volumes reached an all-time peak. Since then, the number of addressed letters has declined by over 50 percent,” the report reads.

This is attributed to the rise of digital platforms for communication such as social media or email.

Christmas cards make up the majority of greetings cards received. Photo:
Bashir Osman's Photography via Getty Images

When the first Christmas card was published, it coincided with the introduction of Britain’s penny post: letters could be mailed for one penny.

Fast forward and head Down Under, Australia Post has lodged a draft notification with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that could see the price of stamps increase from $1 to $1.10.



Postie's Plea Ahead Of This Holiday Season

In the last year, 370 post deliverers have been bitten by dogs on the job.

While this is a response to the continuing decline of letters being posted, is there a possibility it would seal the deal to end Christmas cards?

Watch the video at the top of this article to find out how Christmas cards reached this point in the first place.