What is Japanese New Year Cards?
Japanese new year cards are greeting letters people send to each other celebrating the New Year.
Christmas cards are the equivalent of this custom.
Instead of on the Christmas day, Japanese send cards on the New Year days.
You send these cards to whoever you want to except for those whose family died in the previous year. In this case, people in this family has to send the special letter to everyone who they are supposed to send new year cards notifying the loss of one or more of their family members.
Below is a notification card of some family member loss.
(When I was in elementary school, there was even a class for making these letters from creating the design itself to actually writing some messages on it.
This custom was one of the most exciting things in the year while I was in elementary school and junior high school, expecting someone I secretly liked to somehow know my address and send a card, which never happened sadly. haha)
Fewer and fewer people send these nowadays and they just send greetings through some kind of messenger app or SNS.
But its peak time, there were as many as 4.1 billion cards sent in 2008.
In 2015 the number of cards sent dropped to 3 billion.
History of Japanese New Year’s Cards
The custom of greeting of the new year to people you know existed in as early as the Nara era (710 – 794)
In the Heian era (795 – 1185), the noble people started sending letters to, instead of actually visiting in person, those who they could not see because they live far away from each other.
Below is the new year’s greeting letter in the Edo era.
Quote: ASCII.jp – 年賀状の歴史
The custom of sending new year’s cards became rapidly widespread when the Meiji government started selling cards, following the British postal culture. Because it cost so much less, only 5 percent of what letter cost, people started sending new year’s greetings with cards.
However, the first ever sold postcards in Japan looked still like a letter.
It could be folded in half in order to prevent people from access to the content.
The notice on the right of the card says something like it might be possible for others to see the content, but it is much cheaper.
Japanese New Year’s Cards 2019!
Every year the new year’s cards have its year’s Chinese Zodiac sign.
It is the year of boar, which in China is pig I heard.
So the new year’s cards will look like this!
Let’s send Japanese new year cards to your friends!