From a great round-up of Beatles’ Christmas messages in Vanity Fair:
Little in my life has enriched me more than the Beatles or Christmas—in different (and yet dovetailing) ways. And there is one enriching aspect of the Beatles’ catalog that is so rare, that it falls between the worlds of official product and bootleg. This wasn’t a commercial record, it wasn’t a bootleg, it was its own thing, like the holiday season itself.
I’m talking about the band’s annual Christmas message to the members of their fan club. The recordings—which are usually in the five- or six-minute range—were first sent out in 1963 on what were called flexi discs, to the people who had a big hand in getting the Beatles where the Beatles then presently were. Which is to say, massive in England, poised for global domination, and poised, too, to leave their original brigade of backers behind.
Worth a read! (And a listen.)