Monday December 18, 2017

The Annual Christmas Card

By Kayla Harris, Librarian/Archivist

In a time when handwritten letters are replaced with a quick email or text message, the annual Christmas card, with family updates and well-wishes for loved ones remains a tradition this time of year.

The Marian Library has an extensive assortment of Christmas card collections with depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary that remind us of her importance during this season.

The mouth and foot artists Christmas cards collection features cards painted or drawn by artists utilizing a brush with their foot or mouth due to a disability. Ann Adams (1926-1992) was an artist who contracted polio in the 1950’s. With perseverance and practice she trained herself to be able to draw once again by holding a pencil in her mouth. Each drawing took her over two months to complete. Two of her cards from this collection can be seen in the image gallery.

Sending out holiday cards often involves the entire family, including children. The Holy Childhood Association Christmas card collection contains Christmas cards that were drawn, painted, or otherwise created by children as part of the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 Holy Childhood Association annual Christmas artwork contest. The cards primarily depict nativity scenes, Madonna and Child, and other Christmas themes. Featured below is the Magi Journey by Carly Robinson, grade 8.

The Marian Library has an extensive sampling of mass-produced Christmas cards featuring Mary that indicate the act of sending these cards is a means of popular devotion to Our Lady. The Marian Library also has The International and cultural Christmas cards collection that features a diverse set of Christmas cards. Included in the image gallery is the nativity scene on a Christmas card from Japan. The cards in this collection often feature some unique materials such as the set of Christmas cards that were handmade using banana leaves from Rwanda.

Also of note from the international sampling are two cards that were recently added to the collection. The prints are made from wood-engravings and were published by the Ditchling Press in 1937. The first card, by artist Thomas Derrick (1885-1954), features the Blessed Virgin Mary with an infant Jesus in her arms. The second card is an image of Mary holding the infant Jesus upon a donkey, with Joseph walking beside them under a starry sky. This card was created by the engraver Desmond Chute (1895-1962), an English artist and poet. Chute was an instrumental member of the Roman Catholic art colony, the Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic, founded by Eric Gill. Library specialist Olivia Gillingham recently wrote about Eric Gill in a blog post that announced the acquisition of several of his prints.

Not everyone will be able to travel this week to be near family and friends. For those who cannot, the Christmas card is a small gift to remind loved ones they are thought of during this season.

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