Today, you will be visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. You know what, scratch that. We’re experiencing the present, and the future is too unpredictable. Let’s just focus on the past!
Below, you’ll find some of the most adorable, quirky, and hilarious pictures from Christmases past. You’ll get to see how Christmas cards have transformed over the years and read snippets of some fascinating articles about events that have taken place around Christmas time to get a festive blast from the past. Keep reading to also find interviews we were lucky enough to receive from the creator of Strange Company, which has shared many of the photos on this list, and Roxanne Kwiecinski, the woman behind The Honeycomb Home, to hear their expertise on vintage Christmas items.
Be sure to upvote the pictures that make you feel sentimental for a Christmas you never even experienced, and let us know in the comments what your favorite memories from past Christmases are. Then, if you’d like to check out another Bored Panda article featuring Victorian Christmas cards that are a bit creepier than what Hallmark sells nowadays, you can find that list right here!
Many of the photos on this list have been gathered from the fascinating Facebook page Strange Company, so we reached out to the page’s creator, Undine, to hear how it came to be in the first place. “I’ve always had an interest in the weirder side of history (ghosts, disappearances, bizarre crime cases, eccentrics, etc.),” she told Bored Panda. “Strange Company is my way of amusing myself by sharing such stories with whoever might be interested in them, as well.”
And when it comes to how Undine collects all of the Christmas images she has been sharing recently, she says that they’re all pictures she’s found on the internet. “I believe they date largely from the late Victorian era (a period that was rich in delightful oddities of all sorts.),” she noted.
We were also curious why she thinks we’re so fascinated by these old pictures. “I think we’re interested in these vintage cards because they have personality–they certainly don’t have that bland mass-produced air found in most modern cards,” she shared. “And their weirdness is a great mystery–you find yourself staring at them wondering, ‘Why did someone create this?'”
Finally, we wanted to know if Undine had a favorite one of these Christmas images. “I don’t think anyone will ever top the card showing a frog stabbing another frog to death and running off with his victim’s money.”
If you’d like to find even more of these quirky, festive pictures, be sure to follow Strange Company on Facebook right here.
To learn more about vintage items and how they can be incorporated into our homes during Christmas time, we reached out to Roxanne Kwiecinski, the woman behind The Honeycomb Home blog. We were curious how Roxanne first became interested in including vintage items into her Christmas decor, and she shared that saving money was her inspiration initially.
But that’s not the only reason to incorporate vintage elements into your Christmas. “Christmas is a time that usually includes nostalgia and traditions so I find using vintage items at Christmas is a natural fit,” she shared.
We were also curious if Roxanne had any favorite vintage Christmas decorations. “I have a vintage sled that is the perfect accent for Christmas decor,” she shared. “In past years, I’ve used it on my porch, and sometimes I will display it in the house. I also have a gorgeous red and white vintage quilt that I use as a tree skirt, it’s one of my favorite finds to date.”
If you’re looking to expand your vintage Christmas decor, Roxanne wants to remind readers to keep an open mind while shopping. “And buy what you love even if you don’t think you have a spot for it. Think outside the box. You can use items in ways other than their intended purpose (for example the quilt as a tree skirt).”
“Putting vintage pieces in your home adds instant character in a way new items never could!” Roxanne added.
If you’d like to gain even more home decorating tips from Roxanne, be sure to visit her blog The Honeycomb Home right here!
Christmas has been celebrated for thousands of years, so it only makes sense for the way in which it is celebrated to have transformed greatly over time. Though the holiday has religious origins, centering around the birth of Jesus Christ, it’s now celebrated by billions of people worldwide, many of whom do not actually practice Christianity. For many people, Christmas is simply about spending time with loved ones, getting cozy and enjoying a delicious feast together, and exchanging gifts to show how much we love and care about one another. And one of the most popular traditions many of us choose to participate in is sending Christmas cards.
Cards are nice year round, but especially around Christmas time, many of us go all out when sending them. As a kid, I remember getting dressed up to pose for the “Christmas card photo” every year, and my mother always covered an entire door in our home with all of the adorable cards we would receive from friends and family members. Even in college, my roommates and I created cute cards each year that we sent to our families back home and handed out to friends to spread a bit of holiday spirit. Personally, I find one of the most important parts of Christmas to be letting my loved ones know just how much I cherish them, so I’m always happy to give out a sweet ‘from the heart’ card.
As some of the photos on this list make it very clear, Christmas cards have transformed a bit over time, just like holiday celebrations. There are many interesting vintage cards showing images that we might find confusing or less than inviting today. But are you familiar with how the tradition of sending holiday cards started in the first place? Apparently, we have English educator and patron of the arts, Henry Cole, to thank for popularizing the Christmas card. According to Smithsonian magazine, the holiday season of 1843 was causing Cole a bit of anxiety, as he had many letters piling up from too many friends, and he didn’t have the time to respond to them all.
That’s when he came up with the most brilliant idea. He reached out to an artist friend, J.C. Horsley, and asked if he could design an idea that Cole had imagined. The two men then created an illustration of a family at a table celebrating the holiday, surrounded by images of people helping out the poor, and he had a thousand copies made by a printer in London. The drawings were printed on stiff cardboard, and at the top of each was written, “TO:___”, as well as the generic greeting “A Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year To You”.
Although it was well-intentioned, Cole’s original Christmas card still managed to be the subject of some controversy in England. The image on the card happened to feature a few young siblings enjoying what appeared to be glasses of wine, next to their older siblings and parents. “At the time there was a big temperance movement in England,” Ace Collins, author of Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, told Smithsonian. “So there were some that thought he was encouraging underage drinking.” But overall, the Christmas card was still a success. Within a few years, other prominent socialites in Victorian England followed suit and began sending out their own cards during the holiday season.
“Hey, Phil, how do we best represent the Christmas season? I’m out of ideas.”
“I’ve got it! A kitten staring at a boiled egg!”
“Perfect! Let’s run with it!”
It took a few decades for Christmas cards to become common in the United Kingdom and the United States, but eventually, they turned into a December staple. Nowadays, regardless of what you celebrate during this holiday season, you can send a card for it: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or even simply New Year’s. There is another man who is credited for creating the first American Christmas card though: Louis Prang, a Prussian immigrant who owned a print shop near Boston. In 1875, Louis created a card with a painting of a flower that simply read “Merry Christmas”, which launched the first generation of American holiday cards. “They were vivid, beautiful reproductions,” Ace Collins told Smithsonian. “There were very few nativity scenes or depictions of holiday celebrations. You were typically looking at animals, nature, scenes that could have taken place in October or February.”
As Christmas cards became more and more popular, people began to collect them the same way they might collect coins or butterflies, and competitions even began to award whoever could come up with the best designs. Nowadays, Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States, with over 2 billion cards being sent annually. We don’t just send paper cards anymore, though. About 500 million Christmas e-cards arrive in people’s inboxes each year as well. There is even a “Christmas Card Day”, which is celebrated on December 9th each year. I imagine that this is the last day that you can ensure your card will arrive where it needs to be before December 25th, if you’re mailing it domestically.
If you’re looking for a more sustainable option for sending holiday cards, or you don’t want to break the bank purchasing expensive cards in a store, e-cards might be the perfect option for you. They are typically less expensive and reach your friends and family members instantly. While it’s nice to receive physical mail, those billions of Christmas cards have to end up somewhere, and that’s often going to be in the trash bin at the end of the season. E-cards are often more customizable as well, so you can adjust the design to perfectly fit whoever you want to send a holiday greeting to. You also don’t need to worry about them getting lost in the post office. This time of year, sending any physical mail is a bit of a gamble, so why not rely on the trusty e-card instead?
All of these photos from past Christmases are making me want to look back on some of my own favorite Christmases. As a kid, my brothers and I had a tradition of waking up extremely early every December 25th, around 5 or 6 in the morning, and we would spend the next few hours watching A Christmas Story on repeat until my parents finally woke up. We would gaze in awe at all of the gifts under the tree and open our stockings to keep us occupied for a few hours while we gushed from excitement for the following day. Christmas was always the most magical day of the year for me as a kid, and I’m so thankful to my parents and brothers for making those days some of the very best memories I have from childhood.
As an adult, Christmas may not be quite as magical as it once was, but I still can’t help but love this holiday season. Picking out the perfect gifts for my loved ones, seeing the joy on someone’s face when I deliver them some freshly baked cookies and filling up the apartment with lights and decorations to feel extra cozy just makes this time of year feel so special. I’m a huge proponent of finding any excuse to celebrate, so my heart is just bursting with love during this time. Why wouldn’t I shower my partner in gifts and watch Christmas movies while drinking hot chocolate? I don’t do those things any other time of year, so I have to take advantage of it now!
I hope all of you pandas out there have had a wonderful holiday season, and I can’t wait to read some of your best memories from Christmases past in the comments below. Keep upvoting the vintage Christmas pics that you find most adorable or perplexing, and keep that Christmas spirit going in the comments! Thank you for being with us this holiday season, and if I could, I would send you all a handwritten holiday card. But for now, this article will have to do! And if you’re interested in checking out even more questionable Victorian holiday cards that we’ve featured on Bored Panda before, you can find those right here!