19 December 2017


·         Analysis of Christmas cards by Clintons indicates that snow scenes have been affected by global warming
·         Father Christmas loses 12kg in a decade
·         Robin Redbreasts endangered
·         Wise men in decline, replaced by the less-seasonal Darth Vader, Kylo Ren and teddy bears

Analysis of the artwork on thousands of Christmas cards from the last two decades by Clintons, the national chain of greeting card retailers, indicates that global warming, diet-consciousness and popular culture are having a dramatic effect on what we have on our mantelpiece.

The robin redbreast appears on fewer cards than ever before, continuing the decline last reported in Clintons’ card index in 2014.  In the last decade, Christmas card designs featuring robins have declined by 29.2%, in contrast to their real-world equivalent population, which has grow by 49% since the 1970s.

Snowmen have increased in frequency on Christmas cards, up by 15.2% in the last decade.

Wider analysis of the animals depicted on Christmas cards this year has yielded several surprises.  There are virtually no donkeys.  Robins remain a frequent, if scarcer feature.  Reindeers have been unaffected by fashion shifts, appearing on 10% of cards.  But the surprise four-legged feature is the bear, which features on 32% of cards this year.

Tim Fairs, a director at Clintons, said: “It has not been a good year for Wise Men, according to our analysis.  But each year brings fresh depictions that are add to the Christmas heritage.  This year, for some reason, bears are popular.  Snow has succumbed a bit to global warming, but with last week’s fall, card artists for 2018 may be starting to think a bit differently.”

Snow remains a popular theme, with snowflake designs up 8.2% in the last ten years. Estimated average snow depth on cards has continued to decline, though, with ‘deep and crisp and even’ replaced by manageable weather conditions.  Tim Fairs added: “Snow tends to be more at the Met Bureau end of the spectrum than the Snowpocalypse headline.”  Accordingly, few cards now depict sleighs, reflecting the easier travel conditions portrayed.

In most card depictions of snowy scenes, snow appears to be an average of six inches deep.

Christmas trees remain a prominent feature, appearing on 29% of cards this year.

Depictions of Father Christmas continue their slight downward trend (3.6% over the decade) but his fashion influence remains strong, with 8.3% more characters on cards wearing his trademark red hat than this time ten years ago.

Creatures wearing the Santa hat this year include dogs, cats, teddy bears and rabbits. Father Christmas appears to have lost around 12kg in the last decade and his famous rosy cheeks have changed from Pantone colour code 217 to Pantone 177. His famous red outfit has deepened in tone in recent years, moving from Pantone 1795 to Pantone 1807.

However, despite these changes, Christmas card designs remain as traditional as ever. While many people seem concerned that the true meaning of Christmas has been forgotten, it seems that at Christmas, people still stick with tradition. Victorian street scenes remain as popular as ever, with holly bushes, bells and stars all apparently here to stay.

This year there is some evidence the Christmas is a more distant and ancient celebration that we imagined, with several cards featuring Darth Vader and his grandson Kylo Ren from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away - and proving, perhaps, that whatever your views on galactic domination, Christmas is a family affair.

Tim Fairs, Clintons, added: “It’s fascinating to see how depictions of Christmas combine tradition and fluidity. We’re surrounded by new technology, but this seems to be the one time of the year when everyone indulges in traditions – the satsuma in the stocking, the Christmas card, the rustle of wrapping paper.  Thankfully, though, the light sabers are toys.”

The Christmas card market has become increasingly sophisticated, with complex pop-up cards and luxury options. Glitter, a staple of Christmas, now appears on 27% more cards than it did a decade ago. Cards, from Clintons’ range of more than 1,000 different options, range from £1 (for many) to £25 for a deluxe card.

Cards have also become highly-prized and valuable collectors’ items.  The first ever Christmas card was designed by John Callcott Horsley and commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. The card featured a design showing three generations of a family raising a toast to the recipient – the “eat, drink and be merry” theme remains familiar today.  It sold for a staggering £22,500 at auction in 2001.

Clintons was founded in 1968 and is a leading retailer of greeting cards, gifts and wrap in the United Kingdom. There are currently hundreds of stores all over the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as a fully transactional website. Every year, over 30 million people visit our stores.
We require all our suppliers to comply with applicable law, including the EU timber regulations.  FSC, or Forest Stewardship Council, is widely respected as having one of the most robust and stringent forest certification programs in place to ensure ethical sourcing of paper products.  We continue to strive to ensure the ethical sourcing of our timber products.

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