10 Facts About Printing and the Holiday Season

I thought it would be a fitting way to end the year by giving a little history of the holiday season and printing.  So start a fire in the hearth, put on some cozy socks, make sure there is spiced eggnog in hand and read on to learn some surprising facts about the printed page and the festive season!

holiday season

1426: The first Christmas Carols printed in English:  Time to get your Wassailen’ On!  Before there were Carolers there were Wassailers:  “Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists twenty five “caroles of Cristemas”, probably sung by groups of ‘wassailers’, who went from house to house.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_carol


1454:  The first printed story of Christmas:  For those of you who keep the “Christ in Christmas” we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the first printed reference to the big man himself, Jesus Christ.   The first printed copies of the Bible came out in 1454 or 1455.  It was presented in Latin, of course, and published by the father of modern printing, Johannes Gutenberg.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutenberg_Bible


1500’s: The first printed English Bible:  The first major period of Bible translation into the English language is said to have begun as the Tyndale Bible in the early 16th century. He was the first translator to use the printing press. This allowed the printing and sharing of several thousand copies of this translation throughout England. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_translations_into_English


1531: The first printed reference to a Christmas tree:  This was in 1531 in Germany.  What publication was it printed in? I have no idea!  Of 30 websites referencing this fact I have none that detail the publication source!   Urban legend or not, I for one love trimming the Christmas tree!  http://facts.randomhistory.com/christmas-facts.html


1823: The first publication of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”:  Reading this to my children on Christmas eve in my house is a cherished tradition.  According to Carols.org, “Clement Moore, the author of the poem Twas the Night Before Christmas, was a reticent man and it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel who published the poem. The condition of publication was that the author of Twas the Night Before Christmas was to remain anonymous. The first publication date was 23rd December 1823 and it was an immediate success. It was not until 1844 that Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership when the work was included in a book of his poetry. http://www.carols.org.uk/twas_the_night_before_christmas.htm


1843: The first publication of “A Christmas Carol”:  What would the holidays be without the beloved novella by Charles Dickens to our children?   It was first published in London by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. It met with instant success and critical acclaim.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol


1843: The first printed Christmas card: Can you imagine having to hand make all your holiday cards?   Before 1843, Christmas inspired Carpal Tunnel syndrome must have run rampant!  As the story goes on the MentalFloss website, “Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant who helped organize the Great Exhibition and develop the Victoria and Albert Museum, decided he was too busy to write individual Christmas greetings to his family, friends and business colleagues. He asked his friend, the painter John Callcott Horsley, to design a card with an image and brief greeting that he could mail” instead.  http://mentalfloss.com/article/26650/first-christmas-card-was-sent-1843


1868: The first printed reference of Santa in a red suit:  Santa’s suit used to be all kinds of colours, including green and beige.  The first printed reference of Santa Claus in a red suit was in 1868 for an advertisement for Sugar Plums!  I guess we can be thankful his suit wasn’t purple like the fruit! http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/a-pictorial-history-of-santa-claus/


1917: The first printed wrapping paper:  What would the holidays be without all the torn up wrapping paper littering the floor around the Christmas tree?  Printed wrapping paper was introduced (arguably) by the Hallmark Company in 1917:   “Joyce Clyde Hall and his brother, Rollie, invented modern gift-wrap in their Kansas City, MO, store. When they ran out of their solid-colored gift dressing during the peak of the Christmas season, they began substituting the thicker French envelope liners for wrapping presents. It sold so well they began printing their own. Previous to this, they sold white, red and green tissue and one holly pattern for gift-wrapping.” http://www.props.eric-hart.com/education/a-brief-history-of-gift-wrap/


1931: The first printing of the Coca Cola Santa:  It is arguable that the modern version of Santa Claus that we all know and love today is thanks to a Coca Cola printed advertising campaign from 1931. Haddon Sundblom gave vision to the Santa we all know and love today!  http://www.coca-cola.co.uk/about-us/heritage/christmas/coca-cola-and-santa-claus.html

Hopefully these holiday printing facts brought a smile to your face and will help ease you into the festive season.   On behalf of everybody at Print Audit we want to wish you Happy Holidays and a fruitful New Year!  May the spirit of the season fill you and yours with joy and a renewed energy for all the good things to come in 2015.

~Source: Print Audit

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