Have you mailed your holiday cards yet? The United States Postal Service lists December 20th as the last day to post letters for arrival by Christmas!
In the early 20th century, artsy students at the Ethical Culture School in Manhattan printed Christmas festival programs on the school’s own press. Most of the illustrations feature motifs you might have seen on modern cards: decorated fir trees, the Magi following the Star of Bethlehem, Santa with a bag of toys—and a few you probably don’t have on your mantel this season: a gnarled tree of life from Norse mythology, or court jesters heralding the Christmas Revel.
During World War II, after the high school program moved to the new Fieldston campus in the Bronx, the faculty sent Christmas cards with personal reminiscences to alumni in the armed services. Our archive only holds one example of an outgoing card, but dozens of responses from grateful recipients. As one Air Force enlistee wrote in 1944,
Just received the swell Christmas card and can’t tell you how much it has meant to me. It was so much a breath from home that it almost made old hard-hearted [Berman] cry. It is just like you people to do something that swell.”
Happy Holidays! We hope they’re swell!
This post is by Project Archivist Alexanne Levengood. All images are from the recently donated archives of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. The collection is not yet accessible to researchers.