Santa Claus stuffing a terrified kid into his bag of presents? Creepy monsters chasing people? A Christmas dinner come to life, with utensils as legs? Meet some of the many terrifying designs for Christmas cards back in the Victorian era. Plus: today is the anniversary of Earthrise, the iconic photo taken by the Apollo 8 crew as they orbited the moon.
Earthrise: Celebrating the Photograph that Changed (How We View) the World (Library of Congress)
Seasons Greetings! Here’s a Victorian-era picture of unspeakable horrors.
While these days we can send a holiday letter or photo by text or email, the card is the most traditional form of seasonal greeting.
And plenty of people still send those too, with stars on them, or trees, or lights, or Santas, some with religious designs.
But few of us send cards that have drawings of Father Christmas stuffing a terrified kid into his bag of presents.
This is but one of many terrifying designs for Christmas cards back in the Victorian era.
The late 19th century had a thing for the morbid and creepy, and that extended into their end of year messages.
The site Hyperallergic compiled a bunch of these a few years back, and they’re really something.
Some are really just more weird than horrifying, like the owls riding bicycles on a snowy path.
But others feature creepy monsters chasing people, and another shows a Christmas dinner come to life. The pie has sprouted a face and used the utensils as arms and legs.
And then there’s the one featuring four frogs wearing skates, who disobeyed their mother’s orders to stay off the ice and “they all came to grief in a beautiful row.”
An actual card somebody made, for somebody else to send to their friends and loved ones at the holidays.
I can’t imagine how many friendships these cards may have cost senders over the years.
It was Christmas Eve 1968 when the astronauts orbiting the Moon aboard Apollo 8 took the picture known as Earthrise, noting that the vast and lonely surface of the Moon quote “makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.”