Interestingly early Christmas card didn't feature many pictures of Christmas or winter themes; instead they looked forward to the coming spring. In contrast, today's cards often feature images of winter, snow, popular Christmas icons or religious symbols and focus on the holiday itself, rather than what is to come afterwards.
Christmas cards were introduced in America in 1874 by Louis Prang, a printer from Massachusetts. Initially he printed cards to sell in the lucrative market in England in 1873 and introduced them to the American market the following year. Unfortunately he was later pushed out of the market as lower priced imitators grabbed their share of the profits.
Today Christmas cards are still a popular way to communicate between friends and family and between business associates. Many business send Christmas or Holiday cards as a way to stay in touch with their customers and win back their business for the following year. A huge number of cards still feature religious themes and feature traditional motifs, such as the stable, the three wise men, the star and the baby Jesus. They also feature more traditional holiday greetings such as "Merry Christmas."
However, secular and non-religious cards are becoming more and more popular, particularly for businesses as they seek to reach as many customers as possible without offending non-Christians on their mailing list. These cards very often feature images of winter, snowflakes, jokes and other non-traditional symbols of the season. They also shun the traditional holiday greetings in favor of greetings such as "Happy Holidays," "Seasons Wishes" or "Seasons Greetings."
These cards with natural themes have always been popular although there has been a recent move towards more wildlife and natural themed cards. Many of these cards feature animals in winter settings and often the cards promise to donate a portion of their profits to a wildlife reserve, sanctuary or other wildlife charities.
One of the growing trends in holiday and Christmas cards is the rise of cards with a picture of the family on them. Families often take a holiday shot and then frame the photograph within a holiday or Christmas themed border. These cards are great for showing distant relatives how much the kids have grown over the last year or what the newest family pet looks like.