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 ‘Loving Christmas Wishes’—postcards were also used to send birthday, congratulatory, Christmas and other greetings.

‘Loving Christmas Wishes’—postcards were also used to send birthday, congratulatory, Christmas and other greetings.

One of the main social functions of picture postcards was to facilitate communication, a sort of Edwardian Facebook or Twitter. We tend to think of postcards now as mainly sent by holidaymakers, but in the early twentieth century they were also used to send birthday, congratulatory, Christmas and other greetings. The importance of postcards as part of the formal ritual of Christmas Day is suggested by an account in Kate O’Brien’s memoir Presentation Parlour (1963) of the arrival of the (intoxicated) postman with a large bag of post, mainly cards, on Christmas morning. Most significantly, perhaps, postcards in this period were used for casual and informal daily communications, not surprising when there were several mail deliveries a day in urban areas, postage cost just a halfpenny, and neither the telephone nor the telegraph were yet in widespread use.

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