Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Customary well wishing

Here in Western Europe, we have this burdensome habit of sending greeting cards to each other. I have this English friend who humbles me each year by being the first to send his card with wishes for merry Christmas and a happy new year.

His card arrives in early December and gives me the signal to get busy.

On the other hand, the French post their cards till mid-January. Sure, it's a bit late for the "merry Christmas" stuff but you can always purchase cards who cater exclusively for the next year.

All this is a kind of chase where the first-comer humbles the late-comer. Because you have to answer those cards and make believe the other one that both cards crisscrossed somehow. Meaning something like "I am not the uncivil one who waited or was about to forget. I am just a tiny bit late. The postal service was probably on strike."

I hate this custom but don't dare to go silent. Because you can't receive all those well wishings without answering accordingly. I must admit: I don't have the guts to do so.

There is a positive side to all this. You can gloat and boast about all those cards received. We are stacking them on the chimney are are proud to have so many. Meaning without saying so: "I got more than you".

Here, look what we harvested this year:

It might be fun to send those stereotyped wishes in July with a remark saying "to be activated in December/January" or something like "covers a 12-year-span - best before 2020. Then you can live in peace till that date or even better: die before.


  1. ha!! Georg, one must smile (laugh) with the wittiness of your posts. I had no idea of that French tradition of sending late cards. And to corroborate you are loved all over the world we can see your collection of neat square/rectangular items that, regardless of the show-off intentions of the senders do translate into a symbol of warm thoughts, years ago i didn't care for X-mas cards, yet lately, is warm & nice to open a little envelope with some printed landscapes, specially since all-print media seems to be tending to disappear... I found a bit strange the card with the googling eyes, not very Christmassy looking, and even if i try and try to decipher the message in German (??) i just can't figure it out, translation Bitte!!

    ah! in case you want to 'enlarge' your collection of senders, please send me your home address, i will be delighted to send you some US and/or Mexican cards, it's always exciting (at least for me) to receive mail from afar lands

    best wishes for you, your wife, and all your family for this 2009!

    "Blog on, tune in, & don't drop out!"


  2. :) :) :) i know what you mean- we do the same thing here in the us. i have chopped and chopped the list down until it's really family and a few friends that i send to. i wanted to go to email- but so many people don't have it. can you imagine? i know. instead, i use the time to reconnect with people i wouldn't necessarily- because they don't have email :) i am going to be chopping the list again next year- until folks either die off or get email ;)

    happy new year to you and your :)

  3. Hi Georg, the Net is slowly but surely taking the joy away from sending and receiving cards by post... it is far warmer receiving a lovely hand written card than greetings in your mail box! In some cases they are stereotyped and sent as a routine, but they make for a nice bragging display, as you have mentioned!

    Here is wishing you a great New Year...I am not late, am I?it is not mid-January yet!

  4. thank you georg. my life just got easier. next time i am sending cards in jan. i'll put a note saying that i do it the way the french does.

    happy new year.

  5. Hi Georg...

    It's almost like u are describing my father in law!! ( not the french way tho! )

    The Christmas card reaches atleast 3 weeks before...Easter too...All our birthday cards also arrive well in advance...

    I have to admit tho, that I have not cultivated that habit...kevin and my inlaws were initially upset about it...but I explained to them that i just dpn't "feel" good about it! In fact it becomes quite a chore and a pressure, as u so rightly mentioned!

    I have to tell u that we have agreed to disagree on our mode of greeting each other!!

    Feeling, i think is the most important aspect of this exchange and those are there aplenty!


  6. I never thought that so much thought went into the timing of the New year greeting! But now, thanks to your post, I'll be cognizant, and...
    Happy New Year!
    (a week late; sorry!)

  7. Hi and hallo to everybody,

    I should have answered a bit earlier but was quite busy these days. Here we go and let me say first thank you for all those comments.

    Regarding these late coming well wishing cards, it is not a tradition but a toleration. My wife tells me it can be done till end of January. The French, collectively, are very late in paying their invoices and this has been extended to the card sending activity.

    The card with the googling deep sea eyes has a text in Dutch. It means something like: This is terrible......another year has passed.

    You seem to be on the same track as my wife. She, too, is slashing the list of those who are entitled to receive greetings.

    As to email, over here it is still looked upon a bit. Considered impersonal and machine generated. Personally, I'll try to write a real text, not just a phrase like those printed for the occasion.


    If I understand you correctly, this card sending exists in India, too. Or only among Christian Indians?? In your last post you said you would like India to be the very best. Translated into card sending, that would mean a real tsunami of those cards and the post babus would get rich and fat just by selling stamps.

    As I said higher up, the card sending activity in France can go on till end of January. So just get cracking, there is not a moment to be lost.

    Just let me ask you one question, not directly related to our subject. You write "u" instead of "you" and maybe "thru" instead of "through" and you are not the only one: is this "personal" grammar, cell phone writing or what?? Is it widely used?
    You see, I am living here in this village, I don't know what is going on outside, language related.

    Id it is:
    You are absolutely right: this is a kind of second hand subject. I hid on it by asking myself what to write on this blog and accidentally looked at that moment at those greeting cards displayed over the fire side.

    Once again - mantra like - happy new year to all of you. Lots of laughter, good for us.


  8. Hi Georg, card sending does not just exist, it is thriving in India. Of course, the internet has taken away some of that fun, just as, along with the phone, it has almost killed the art of letter writing. Christmas is celebrated widely as a "secular" festival by many Indians in the cities. When I was a kid, I actually thought Santa Claus was real!

    We love celebrating festivals...and most of them are truly joyous and full of energy, dance, music, colour and what have you.

    The posts department is under the government, so no one makes any money selling stamps...these days private courier companies are giving stiff competition.

  9. Hello Georg!!!
    je viens de me payer une franche rigolade.
    Ayant décidé de lire ton dernier article, j'ai utilisé le traducteur YAHOO.
    Comme le traducteur effectue une traduction au "mot à mot" la majeure partie de tes posts et des commentaires de tes amis américains sont incompréhensibles.
    C'est tordant comme ont dit chez nous.
    merci pour ton commentaire chez moi.
    Ne défends pas trop l'indéfendable
    DABELYOU. remarque! c'est pas de sa faute. Il est né comme ça.
    Comment le peuple Américain a-t-il pu élire une pareille nullité?
    Ils sont mieux que ça pourtant.
    Quand tu auras posé ton A380 tu peux m'appeler si tu as le temps.
    A plus georg!!!

  10. Hi Georg...

    I too have picked up this habit unconciously from my kids!

    If u c wot they ryt, it'l drve u krzy!! and I'm not nearly as good as them!

  11. Dear Georg
    I love this habit of sending & receiving cards for any occasion ,although it doesn't say anything new ... it's a repeated habit ... but I think it's lovely ...
    These days 95% of cards are sent through the internet, but I love the old habit more ... and I've collected lots of cards for years & put them on my bookcase ... I enjoy watching them, as I enjoyed watching the photos of cards in your weblog ... I'll send a photo of my cards for you ...
    And about this war:
    Yesssssss ... what you said about Israel is true ... it's a longggggg story which I just hope will finish soon ... the only thing that makes me & for sure has made lots of people in the world in great pain is that only the innocent people are being killed without any reason !!!
    And about being informed of my weblog through email ... it's so easy: I've made a list of the people who I send my weblog for in my email and I just copy the link of my weblog, paste it and send it like any other email that is sent ...
    Best wishes

  12. Loved the post Georg- likewise I am really bad at sending cards out! But happy new year anyway.

  13. "Bon Anee'",Georg!(I learned about the Happy New Year cards from a former beau, who was very very French)