MUSCAT, June 16 –
Buy a card, scribble a catchy and meaningful note, stick the necessary stamp as per its weight and post it.
This was the tradition of wishing the dear and near ones who stayed away from home. Like many other traditions that rally around festivals, sending a paper greeting to the kith and kin in a stamped envelope is becoming a thing of the past.
“From the outset of the holy month of Ramadhan, shops across Muscat used to glitter with greeting cards. They varied from pictures of exchanging Eid Mubarak to classic mosque and the crescent moon. Now, the trend has dwindled,” bemoans Oman Ahmed, an Egyptian teacher.
Now festivals and celebrations have come in a multitude of forms mixed with the digital age, he says.
“We used to spend hours in shops to find Eid cards to send ‘Eid Mubarak’ to our loved ones back in the days when we did not have the Internet.We were dependent on the postal system for sending mails to exchange greetings.”
But he is happy that he still cherishes those memories associated with Eid as some of the cards he received in the past have found their way to his archives.“The value of emotions attached to these handwritten wishes is beyond any match. It was an art, indeed,” he says. According to Shahjahan, a salesman from India, sending a greeting card to friends and family members was never a simple exercise.
It required some effort, but it gave a lot of happiness unlike going to a website, downloading a card and sending it with the click of a finger, he says.
“It is possible to send thousands of free e-cards using the internet. But the pleasure that the paper greeting gives will not be the same as the net cards. It is a gift in all respects, wrapped with care and sent as a symbol of love to the dear ones,” he says.
This becomes special for the receiver as well when he unfolds it and sees the handwritten wishes, he adds.
The tradition of sending good wishes goes back to centuries, probably beginning with the Chinese and Egyptians who exchanged goodwill messages at the start of the new year to ward off evil spirits. However, these tokens were not sent at other times of the year and didn’t bear any resemblance to the cards we recognise today.
There is evidence of printed cards from the 14th Century in Germany where images were carved onto wood blocks, which were then covered in ink and printed onto paper.