The Medieval and Renaissance periods were full of wonderful art, including many paintings of the Christmas story, rich in detail and glorious red, gold, and blue colors. Use an old holiday card or a Renaissance painting found online to make your own unique scrapbook Christmas card with traditional medieval touches such as a hand-illuminated greeting. These crafty heirloom cards, inspired by medieval prayer books or Psalters, will be treasured by the recipient.
Supplies for each Christmas Card
Medieval-Renaissance Christmas picture reprint, 3 x 5″. The picture used here is Luca Signorelli’s “Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels” from the early 16th century.
Red 8 ½ x 11 cardstock
Cream 8 ½ x 11 paper
Gold embroidery floss, embroidery needle
Red and green fine point markers
Gold gel pen
Deckling scissors, ruler
Glue stick or glue dots
Renaissance Painting Christmas Card Cover
Trim the edges of the picture with the deckling scissors. Fold the red cardstock in half to make a 5 ½ x 8 inch holiday card. Using the ruler and the gold gel pen, draw a thin gold line ¼ inch from the edge on the front of the card. Glue the trimmed picture to the center front of the card.
Choosing a Medieval Christmas Card Text
For the greeting in this Medieval-Renaissance card a traditional Latin text is appropriate. Gloria in excelsis deo/Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis, translated as “Glory to God in the Highest/And on earth, peace to men of good will,” is a favorite holiday text. Another possible choice would be an old carol, Angelus ad virginem subitrans in conclave/Virginis formidinum demulcens inquit ave, translated as “An angel came secretly to the Virgin’s room, calmed her, and said “Hail.” For simplicity, the Christmas message of Gaude, “Joy”, is always appropriate. Or choose a Middle English text such as the one Benjamin Britten used in his Ceremony of Carols, “O my deare hert, young Jesu sweit, prepar thy credil in my spreit/And I sall rock thee to my hert and nevermair from thee depart.”
Illuminating the Christmas Card Text
The basic text in this card is printed with MS Word. The page was set for horizontal layout and two columns, and the text was typed in, and centered on the right side. The body of the text is in Old English font, 36 point. The first letter ONLY is in Edda 100 point. Print the text for the center of the card out on the cream paper.
If you are a calligrapher, you can hand write the entire text for a truly personal touch on this handcrafted card.
Fold the paper in half, crease sharply, and then unfold. Using the deckling scissors, trim a decorative edge around the entire border.
Now for some Medieval-style illumination! Using the fine point green marker, draw a vine twisting around the body of the first letter. Fill in the letter itself with the gold gel pen. On the inside of the letter, draw thin alternating diagonal lines with the red and the gold pens.
Assembling the Christmas Card
Cut a 20″ piece of gold embroidery floss and thread it through the needle. Place the text sheet folded inside the red cardstock cover, carefully centering it. Starting on the card fold 1 ½ ” from the edge, thread the embroidery floss through the fold, through the center of the card, then back out 1 ½ ” from the other end of the card fold. Tie the embroidery floss in a knot and trim the excess. Your Medieval-Renaissance Christmas card is complete.