Greeting cards are sent for many reasons. From birthdays and Christmas to get well soon and new home cards, there are plenty of occasions that see us writing notes to those we care about.
Cards have been record breaking, too. Former cancer patient, Craig Shergold, made the Guinness Book of Records in 2013 for receiving 350 million cards from well-wishers from around the world.
But where did the tradition of sending greeting cards come from? And why is sending them so important?
Where it began
The act of sending greeting cards dates back to the ancient Chinese, when new year messages were sent as part of the celebrations, and the Egyptians, who used papyrus to convey their feelings in words. By the 15th century, paper greeting cards were sent between loved ones in Europe and in 1400, woodcuts were used for new year greetings in Germany.
But it was the 1800s when the greeting card grew in popularity. Advances in printing machinery meant that it was possible to purchase cards in shops, while the introduction of the postage stamp made it possible to send cards to loved ones at Christmas.
Why it’s meaningful
There is nothing quite like receiving a card. But why do we send them?
As part of the run-up to Mother’s Day 2013, YouGov carried out a survey on behalf of Royal Mail that revealed mums would most like to receive a handwritten card over a trip to the spa. While this may seem surprising, in many ways it makes sense. While gifts are lovely to receive, seeing the words written by those we care about can have a significant impact on our emotions. As the ancient Chinese and Egyptians knew all those centuries ago when they first started exchanging messages, writing meaningful notes to others revels that we’re thinking of them.
Why not use social media?
Since Facebook became widely available to non-university students in 2006, our lives have been transformed by social media. We send messages to friends over Messenger and Instagram without a second thought. These online messaging services mean that a quick ‘happy birthday!’ to a distant schoolfriend is enough of an acknowledgement.
Therefore, the physical card has taken on a new significance. Now, when we receive cards through the post, we know that thought and care as gone into it. The card design, the note inside, any illustrations that have been added. These all combine to create a special note that indicates that we are loved and in someone’s thoughts.
Personalised cards take things up a level. These not only show how someone has thought of us for our birthday or on the day of our driving test, but they also show that they know us well enough to appreciate a personal touch.
So, next time you’re thinking about sending a card instead of posting on social media, take the plunge and pick the card that’s perfect for the person you care about.