Christmas Traditions

Christmas Cards

Nowadays many people consider sending Christmas greetings to friends and family near and far as an essential part of the Christmas preparations. 

 Christmas Cards are the most common form of Christmas greeting but with increased use of technology it is becoming more and more common for people to send electronic greetings, e-mails and text messages, on the occasion of Christmas. Since the year 1932 the State Broadcasting Service (RÚV) has broadcast Christmas and New-Year´s greetings, which originally were mainly inteded for those who for some reason had to be away from home, be they seamen at sea or people who for one reason or another were unable to be with their families at Christmas.
As the years went on the Christmas greetings broadcast by RÚV were ever increasing and this trend shows no sign of changing in our day. This can be seen by the fact that on St Thorlakur´s Day (December 23rd) RÚV Radio 1 broadcasts nothing but Christmas greetings and News. This easily leads one to the conclusion that Christmas Greetings are for a great many people an inadmissible part of the Christmas celebrations.

In spite of a huge increase in Christmas greetings sent through the latest in technology traditional Christmas Cards are as popular as ever. Each December the post offices overflow with Christmas Cards and the numbers are so great that people are urged to send their cards early to be sure that they will be devlivered to the recipient in time. The oldest known Christmas greeting in Iceland is to be found in a letter dated 1667, written by the bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson, where he says: „With a wish for a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year, and every hour full of good prospects in the name of our Lord Amen.“ It was, however, not until quite a bit later that Christmas Cards as we know them today came along. The world´s first known Christmas Card was published in England in the year 1843 which was three years after the invention of the postal stamp. It was not until around 1890 that the first Christmas Cards were marketed in Iceland and their origin was mostly Danish or German, but at that time Christmas Cards had become increasingly popular both in Europe and North America. Around the turn of the 19th Century Icelandic Christmas cards started appearing and the tradition of sending Christmas cards soon caught on in Iceland, a tradition which has grown steadily since and has long ago established itself as an inadmissible part of the preparations for Christmas.