I’m not going to pretend like I know why the Victorians liked frogs on their Christmas cards. But they did.
They liked cats more. And they liked dogs, dachsunds in particular — but who doesn’t love a good weiner dog? They also seemed to like monkeys, beetles, squirrels, rabbits, and dead birds.
But there are a surprisingly large number of cards featuring frogs.
I’ve wracked my brain to figure out why frogs might be a big Christmas theme. There were certainly plenty of cards for other occasions that featured frogs, like the one below, but never in such numbers as on Christmas cards.
Some don’t even seem to have anything actually to do with being a frog. You could replace these guys with any other creature, and it would make just as little sense:
Some like the next one often remind people of Over the Garden Wall, especially because of the episode with the frogs on the ferryboat. I could explain it, but I won’t try — just go watch it.
Most of them, though, are just bizarre:
Or they look like they just slapped “A jolly Christmas” on a picture of a frog:
The ones that try to give a moral seem like they’re trying to snag some Aesop’s fable vibe, but they also seem like they were dashed off so quickly that they didn’t really think about how the rhyme was supposed to match the image.
But the last one, which has become pretty widely shared in the last few years, definitely is the summit of surrealism when it comes to these old cards. I’ve taken a stab (ha!) at making sense of it, and, yeah, I got carried away. But, come on…what else can you do but realize that a card as odd as this one wants, no, DEMANDS to be taken as seriously as possible?