The Post of Christmas Past

We have been celebrating Christmas through the post for over 160 years.

From postmen under the mistletoe to the world's first Christmas card, our collections reveal the powerful link between Christmas and the postal service. After all, can YOU imagine a Christmas without something from the postman?

Did you know…?

  • The world's first Christmas card was sent in 1843 – the same year that Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol;
  • In 1843, 1000 Christmas cards were made. In 2005, 744 million Christmas cards were delivered by Royal Mail;
  • On early cards Father Christmas was dressed in green, as he was seen more as the spirit of winter;
  • Until 1878, Valentine's cards were more popular than Christmas cards. Three years later in 1881, we were first advised to 'Post early for Christmas', to help the Post Office handle the deluge of mail;
  • Over 17 thousand million Christmas stamps have been printed in Britain since the first ones (designed by children) in 1966;
  • Post was last delivered on Christmas Day in England in 1960 (Scotland 1966).
Image of World's First Christmas Card

World's First Christmas Card

The world's first commercial Christmas card, commissioned by civil servant Henry Cole in 1843.

Image of Cards in the Post & the Post on Cards

Cards in the Post & the Post on Cards

How the Post Office came to be seen as fundamental to Christmas.

Image of Christmas Under Fire

Christmas Under Fire

The end of Christmas under fire - a card sent from Malta in December 1942.

Image of The official messenger from Santa Claus

The official messenger from Santa Claus

A postman's 20 years as 'the official messenger from Santa Claus'.

Image of First Christmas Stamps

First Christmas Stamps

Britain lagged behind other parts of the world in issuing special stamps for Christmas.

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You may also be interested in...

BPMA at Blists Hill

BPMA at Blists Hill

The Museum of the Post Office in the Community in Shropshire

A fascinating permanent exhibition located above the re-created Victorian Post Office at Blists Hill Victorian Town.


Christmas Posters Cards

Christmas Posters Cards

12 Christmas cards featuring striking poster images

Christmas cards featuring Post Office posters designed by Tom Eckersley, Hans Unger, and George Him and Jan Lewitt.




Find out about our work with Primary and Secondary schools

Our schools offer includes learning packs, museum visits, in-school outreach and special projects.


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