Season’s Greetings!

Christmas and New Year Cards

18 November 2022 – 8 January 2023

Every year, people around the world send billions of Christmas and New Year cards. Their motifs vary from culture to culture and from region to region, but their messages are always positive and full of hope. This lovely custom is the focus of this year’s Christmas exhibition at the MKB.

Isn’t it romantic to be the recipient of a richly decorated, handwritten love letter at the start of a new year? This was common practice in the 19th century. Children also produced lavish New Year letters for their parents and godparents.

Our Christmas exhibition opens in delightfully nostalgic fashion. It is designed simply and largely in white to allow the richness of the 350-odd Christmas and New Year cards to be shown to best effect.

Our small but refined selection of cards from the MKB’s collection gives some idea of the great variety of motifs produced over the past 200 years. Religious subjects like nativity scenes, angels, the star of Bethlehem, Santa Claus or Christmas trees are the most prevalent. Cute kids and animals, wintry landscapes, and reproductions of famous works of art are also widespread.

Many of these motifs are in circulation around the world. In addition, local interpretations also occur that are influenced by local cultures, beliefs, and social conditions.

The same is true of the messages found on cards. They are always optimistic as they express joy and hope for a better future — even under difficult circumstances. Cards from Latin America in the 1980s, when people had to endure dictatorship and civil war, illustrate this point impressively.

Practised around the world, excessively to some extent, this lovely custom is mainly the result of developments in the postal service and printing industry. Our exhibition devotes a section to each one.

Season’s Greetings will offer both Christmas joy and food for thought as well as inspire visitors to make and write their own cards in our exhibition workshop.