Row, Ho, Ho

25 December 2019

By Tim Koch

Season’s Greetings from all the elves (also Swedish tomtar, Cornish piskies, Irish leprechauns, plus fairies, sprites, goblins and hobgoblins of all nationalities) at Hear The Boat Sing (no trolls allowed). Naughty or nice, throughout 2020 (and beyond) we will be gifting HTBS Types ‘all aspects of the rich history of rowing, as a sport, culture phenomena, a life style, and a necessary element to keep your wit and stay sane’. Please accept this service in place of Christmas cards – apart from the vintage examples reproduced below.

According to Wikipedia, the first recorded Christmas card was sent to James I of England in 1611. The snappy message read:

A greeting on the birthday of the Sacred King, to the most worshipful and energetic lord and most eminent James, King of Great Britain and Ireland, and Defender of the true faith, with a gesture of joyful celebration of the Birthday of the Lord, in most joy and fortune, we enter into the new auspicious year, 1612.

The modern fashion for Christmas cards began in Britain in 1843, three years after the introduction of the Penny Post, when Sir Henry Cole commissioned 2000 cards showing a family raising a toast to the card’s recipient.

The world’s first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott for Henry Cole in 1843. Picture: Wikipedia.

According to Wiki, ‘Early British cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favouring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring’. Also, it seems that often very generic cards were simply overprinted with a seasonal text – including those with rowing themes.

Two chaps, perhaps hoping to enter The Ladies’?
Peculiarly, Grace Darling is apparently having a jolly time.
Maybe the little Italian girl is suggesting that the boy may find it more efficient to row facing the stern.
Early cards reminded the recipient of the approach of better weather – as does this recent Instagram post from photographer, Hamish Roots.


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