How a Holiday Becomes a Card-Sending Occasion

Just a "Hallmark Holiday"? Think Again!


Here at Hallmark we spend a lot of time thinking about and researching how people celebrate. We strive to help people express themselves and create stronger connections with family and friends.

With one of the world's largest creative staffs and the best researchers in the industry, we provide greeting cards, ecards, photo cards, and products for many occasions, including more than 20 holidays.

We often hear the term "Hallmark holiday" used in a disparaging way. As a business, we wish it were so easy that we could dream up products and people would flock to our stores to buy them. But we have to respond to what people want – not the other way around. There first has to be a real consumer need that we meet with our products.

While we're honored that people so closely link the Hallmark name with celebrations and special occasions, we can't take credit for creating holidays. Congressional resolutions, proclamations, religious observances, cultural traditions, and grassroots leadership by ordinary people create these special days. It's really the public who gives occasions like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day widespread acceptance as celebration events.

And why not find a reason to celebrate?

Holiday Origins

People have felt the need to celebrate significant days and events since earliest recorded history, and quite likely, even long before that. Most such celebrations, at least until the past few centuries, stemmed from religious beliefs and practices – some of them pagan. They became known as "holy days" from the Anglo-Saxon words "halig daeg." From this religious term evolved the secular term "holiday." This is the origin of occasions such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas.

Today's calendars also contain designated legal federal holidays, such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, which often result in a day off work or school for many Americans. Technically, there are no national holidays in the U.S. The President and Congress designate by law the holidays to be observed in the District of Columbia and by federal employees throughout the United States. Federal offices, banks and schools typically are closed on legal federal holidays. However, the federal government cannot declare a holiday to be observed by the entire country. Instead each state governor has the authority to specify the holidays for the state. It is customary for states to coordinate major holidays to fall on the same date across the country.

Throughout the years, individuals have led grassroots efforts to establish holidays such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents Day and Sweetest Day. As word of these new observances spread, many others joined in supporting and celebrating the holidays. Eventually, some individuals took the observances to governmental or professional organizations for official national recognition.

The President of the United States and the U.S. Congress have recognized many special days in the form of proclamations or resolutions. For many years, Congress played an active role in declaring special observances for people, events or other activities deemed worthy of national recognition. However, since passing these resolutions occupied a significant amount of time and effort, Congress decided to discontinue this process in January 1995. Some state legislatures and governors, as well as city officials, still proclaim special days for their regions. Other holidays have been acknowledged by registering them with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or other professional organizations.

Being listed in Chase's Calendar of Events is a way for new celebrations and events to achieve recognition and status. In recent years, many individuals and organizations have found that declaring a holiday by naming a day, week or month and promoting it to the public has become an effective way to draw attention to their causes, even without the "official" holiday status.

Holiday Greeting Cards

To respond appropriately to the public’s celebration needs, Hallmark has always paid close attention to trends and monitored demand for holiday products. Hallmark was founded in 1910 and began making cards for holidays in the decade that followed.

While consumer demand is an important part of the overall equation, it alone is not enough to prompt Hallmark to create greeting cards for holidays. When evaluating a potential holiday offering, we consider: 1) "sendability" (How likely are people to send cards for this occasion?) and 2) whether there is a large enough consumer need across the United States.

In the digital age, ecards are popular for some holidays and occasions, such as Tax Day, Fourth of July or wishing someone good luck. Ecards provide ways to help people connect at times when they might not choose a paper card but still want to reach out to friends or family. Hallmark.com ecards feature popular music, TV and movie clips, animation, interactivity, and personalization.

Today, if you wish, you can create your own holiday and create your own greeting cards to celebrate it. At Hallmark.com, you can select a print-on-demand paper card, personalize it with your message and photos (you can even add a sound clip), and Hallmark will stamp, address and mail the card for you.

Your holiday, your message, your way.

Stories Behind the Holidays

So if you think that special date on the calendar is a "just a Hallmark holiday," think again. There are fascinating histories behind every holiday for which Hallmark makes cards. We are happy to share the stories behind the holidays and the individuals who brought them to national recognition.

Return to the Holidays & Occasions page to find out more.

Fun Fact

Eighteen-year-old entrepreneur J.C. Hall founded Hallmark in 1910 with little more than two shoeboxes full of postcards. Read more about J.C. Hall.