Christmas Cards – History Mystery, December 2014

December 13, 2014 – Question

The Christmas card pictured above is from the collection of the Wellesley Historical Society and dates from c. 1920–1930. It was donated by the Fleming family as part of a significant collection of greeting cards. Christmas cards usually bring to mind religious images such as the Nativity or more secular scenes like snowmen and snow-covered landscapes. So what is a sailing ship doing on a Christmas card? Return on December 24th to find out the answer and to view additional image of sailing ships on Christmas cards from our collection.

December 24, 2014

The image of a ship appears on several c. 1920-1930 Christmas cards in the collection of the Wellesley Historical Society.  The sailing ship has a long tradition of symbolizing the Christian faith on many different levels.  The mast and anchor of a ship form the shape of a cross; this was a useful symbol during times of Christian persecution when the devout needed to avoid more overt symbolism.  The ship could also represent the ark of Noah or symbolize the safety of the mother church on the stormy seas of life.  The sailing ship could also serve a nostalgic purpose in the 1920’s and 30’s as life, and methods of transportation, became more mechanized and advanced.  To see additional images of sailing ships on Christmas cards from our collection, see below!

Kathleen Fahey, Curator