It is New Year and it is time for exchanging good wishes. But did you get around to find a greeting card and send it across to your beloved? No, you can’t find one anywhere. Till a few years back, sending greeting cards was one of the personal acts of communication between the kith and kin during the festive seasons. Alas! sending a greeting card by post has become obsolete and old-fashioned!
Forget the greeting cards. Most of us today use Facebook or Instagram even to communicate the daily details of our life and to keep our network of family and friends up to date. No wonder, Facebook even produces videos to share your greetings.
So who will take the effort to buy a card, write a blissful wish, find time to go to post office, slap a stamp and send it? A stamped envelope has become a paraphernalia of things that is being buried in the history!
“Come whatever the festive season may be, shops across Muscat used to glitter with greeting cards. Nobody even think about the traditional way of posting a card. Sending paper cards is a ritual steeped in the tradition,’’ said Nancy Joan from Lebanon.
The value of the emotions attached with these handwritten wishes is beyond any match. It was an art, indeed. Now festivals and celebrations have come in a multitude of different forms mixed with the digital age, she laments.
But Kevin Robs from Sweden has something different to say. Most greeting cards are uninspiring, dull and they lack lustre, he says.
“It’s the age of Internet and e-greetings. Sending a greeting on Internet is quick and easy and a good way to buzz someone,” he says.
But Nancy counters, “It is possible to send thousands of free e-cards using the Internet. But the pleasure that the paper greeting gives will not be as same as the net cards. It is a gift in all aspects, wrapped with care and send as a symbol of love to the dear ones.”
In the US, people are still buying more than six billion cards per year, according to the Greeting Card Association, which did not provide more detailed statistics on trends in the industry.
But the fact is that more and more people are using text and email and e-cards, and fewer people are buying virtual cards.
The tradition of sending good wishes goes back to many centuries, probably beginning with the Chinese and Egyptians who exchanged goodwill messages at the start of a new year to ward off evil spirits.
However, these tokens were not sent at other times of year and didn’t bear any resemblance to cards we recognise today.
There is evidence of printed cards from the 14th Century in Germany where images were carved onto wood blocks, which then be covered in ink and used to print onto paper.
These forms of cards were very expensive since they were handmade so were only accessible to well to do and wealthy individuals.