Royal Mail's Festive Facts 'Posted'

As Christmas looms ever closer Royal Mail has been predicting the size of its festive mailbag for 2009 - and has 'posted' details of its festive advice onto the internet.

Helping to promote its 'Greetings' website, Royal Mail said today that its post bag will be bulging with around two billion items - with the busiest day predicted to be Monday, 14 December when around 140 million items will enter the system – compared to an average daily figure of 75 million.

Also, as people continue the upward trend of internet Christmas shopping, Royal Mail predicts it will handle around 155 million items ordered online.

Royal Mail also revealed that each adult sends an average of 55 Christmas cards each year.

"Last year we sent 750 million Christmas cards: 17 for every man, woman and child in the UK - or enough to stretch around the world five times - with the robins used on cards 150 years ago relating to the way postmen wore red tunics and were nicknamed robins," said a spokesperson.

"However, top selling Christmas cards in recent years featured a cow with antlers tied on to its head, and a photograph of Brussels sprouts!"

In fact, the custom of sending Christmas cards started in Britain in 1840 when the first 'Penny Post' public postal deliveries began, although Europeans had distributed wood prints of religious themes for Christmas during the Middle Ages.
News Image
The English illustrator John Calcott Horsley created the first modern Christmas card in 1843.

It was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole the pioneer of the penny post and founder of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The card depicted a family celebration and its caption read, 'A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You'.

Royal Mail then issued its first special Christmas stamp in 1966 and has done so every year since, varying between secular and religious design themes and this year will print tens of millions of First Class Christmas stamps this year.

These days, more than a third of Christmas cards sold are charity cards, with good causes gaining an estimated £20 million in income from sales each year.

Noting that the precious beauty of stained glass has told the nativity story for more than a thousand years, Royal Mail said this was the inspiration for its Christmas stamps for 2009.

The set of seven stamps feature characters from the nativity depicted in stained glass windows selected from churches around the UK.

This Christmas Royal Mail is donating 1p from every book of First Class Stamps sold to its charity partner Barnardo's to support the work it does with children and young people.

To see where Royal Mail has posted all its festive mail advice, log on to: www.royalmail.com/greetings


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