Take part in our project to document the COVID-19 crisis by donating your festive letters and cards.

As people across the country prepare to celebrate Christmas in unique ways, often separated from the friends and family they would normally gather with at this time of year, The Postal Museum is collecting Christmas correspondence to record how the post is being used to deliver gifts, share news and send Christmas wishes.

Christmas card design for 2002 by Martin Norgate (2013-0062/39)

Our Museum’s collection has a long history of records relating to the delivery of Christmas mail, which since the Victorian period has seen huge increases in the number of letters and parcels being posted. Every year, people are encouraged to ‘post early for Christmas’ and managing the Christmas mails is an organisational challenge for Royal Mail and Post Office. We are looking to add to our historical collections by reflecting how Christmas is being celebrated through the post in 2020.

Over the course of this year, a year in which keeping in touch has been more important than perhaps ever before in our lifetimes, we have been adding to our collections to reflect the changing significance of the post.

We’ve already collected letters and greetings cards from people across the country who have told us how important it has been to send and receive mail from loved ones during this challenging year. People have shared their homemade ‘wish you were here’ postcards, featuring lockdown living rooms instead of the usual summer holiday destinations.

We’ve heard from many, many grandparents who received drawings and paintings from their grandchildren through the post when they couldn’t meet up and spend time together. We’ve also been collecting packaging, like cardboard boxes used to deliver flowers to friends who couldn’t be supported by a hug, when times were really tough.

Religious festivals have been celebrated in new ways, as families who would usually come together, turned to the post to express their feelings and observe traditions. We heard from one man who received a Rakhi card and bracelet through the post from his sisters during lockdown, in celebration of a Hindu festival of brothers and sisters.

‘A Hanukkah Wish’ Card, 20th Century (OB1995.671/7)

We’ve also purchased examples of greetings cards wishing the recipient a ‘happy Eid in isolation’, and ‘a social dinstan-singh type of DIWALI’. We are expanding our collection of religious greetings cards to be more reflective of modern British society and would love to hear from anybody who is interested in donating items to our collecting project.

Visit COVID-19 and the Post to find out how to get involved.

– The Postal Museum’s Collections Team

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