Easter Cards

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Easter Cards

During the early part of the nineteenth century Easter was not widely celebrated in the United States. Many Protestants still harbored a deep suspicion of Christian holidays that dated back to the Reformation, the sixteenth-century religious reform movement that gave birth to Protestant Christianity. In general Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Moravians endorsed the holiday, while lowchurch Protestants - such as Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, and Quakers - tended to reject it. This state of affairs changed after the Civil War (1861-65), as many Protestant denominations previously hostile or indifferent to Easter warmed up to the holiday. The great surge in Easter merchandising that took place during the 1870s and 1880s helped to solidify this change. Many secular elements of American Easter celebrations, such as the Easter parade, the Easter Bunny, and Easter cards came to prominence during this era.

Easter cards became an established element of American Easter celebrations in the 1880s. Their production may have been inspired in part by the success that American card manufacturers enjoyed in the 1870s with Christmas cards. Flowers served as the most common decorative image on these early Easter cards. Religious sentiments and short quotations from Christian scripture also made frequent appearances. Oftentimes the cards blended religious motifs, such as angels and the cross, with folkloric emblems like frolicking children, eggs, and hares (see also Easter Eggs; Egg Lore).

Although today many people enjoy sending Easter cards, they have not achieved the same widespread popularity as Christmas cards. According to the Greeting Card Association in Washington, D.C., Christmas remains the single most popular holiday on which to send greeting cards. Christmas cards account for one quarter of all seasonal greeting cards sold in the United States. Other holidays on which Americans exchange large numbers of greeting cards include, in order of popularity, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Easter, and Father's Day.

Further Reading

Gulevich, Tanya. Encyclopedia of Christmas. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2000. Schmidt, Leigh Eric. Consumer Rites. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Web Site

The Greeting Card Association, an organization composed of greeting card publishers and other industry members, offers a page of facts and figures concerning greeting card sales at:
References in periodicals archive ?
Easter postcards were popular: one shows two girls in Easter bonnets clutching massive eggs with cute baby chicks.