年賀状! New Year’s Cards!
年賀状 nengajou are a Japanese tradition. Just like many families in Western cultures send Christmas cards (beginning with Queen Victoria in the 1840s), the Japanese send postcard greetings to loved ones for 正月 shougatsu (New Year).
The postcards are usually ornately decorated with ink stamps and calligraphy, offering health and best wishes for the upcoming year. Many of the postcards sent include themes of the 十二支 juunishi, The Chinese Zodiac.
This year, 2010, is the year of the Tiger!
kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu
I hope for your favor again in the coming year
akemashite omedetou gozaimasu
Happiness to you on the opening of a New Year
Sakunen wa taihen osewa ni nari arigatou gozaimashita
Thank you for all your kind help during the past year
Minasama no gokenkou wo oinori moushiagemasu
Wishing everyone good health
These cards are usually sent out in mid-December in order to assure delivery by the post office on January 1st.
I made sure to send mine out in plenty of time to arrive. I was so happy to hear that everyone got their cards on time! The card I sent to my darling friend Makiko arrived in Gifu on the December 30th. And my cousins got theirs on the 31st! Perfect timing!