The Lost Art of the New Year’s Card

A hundred years ago and more, people sent each other cards wishing good fortune and prosperity in the coming new year. Often these cards were postcards, and contained various elements meant to represent luck and wealth. Commonly used items include: four leafed clovers or shamrocks; bags of money; ladybugs; red-spotted mushrooms (Amanita muscaria); angels, fairies, or gnomes; pigs; and of course, champagne.

WM Ladybugs 1b

A New Year’s Day card originally published in Belgium, from which I have made a reproduction card

In the US we seem to have lost the habit of sending cards for New Year’s Day, but those in Europe continue to do so. My cousin C., who spent part of his childhood in France and who travels there as often as he can, has a whole group of friends to whom he sends cards for New Year’s.

The French, in particular are still fond of sending cards for New Year’s Day, and many of the vintage postcards I have in my collection are from France, although the Scandinavian countries come a close second behind the French in this regard.

WMNerman 1a

A dual-purpose card by Einar Nerman, of Sweden, circa the ’20s.

Often cards from Sweden or Denmark are combination Christmas and New Year’s Day cards. They are the ones most likely to have pigs in them, for some reason it seems a popular tradition.

The Victorian English had their New Year’s cards too, and they were often some of the oddest. Several bloggers have posted about them, and are well worth the reading and viewing. Margaret Buffie has a wonderful collection of them on her blog (mostly Christmas, but some dual holiday.) She and I have several of the same cards in our collections.

One of my personal favorites in the whimsical/odd categories is this one, with a group of owls wishing us the compliments of the season as they dance under a full moon, accompanied by a frog footman who is carrying a roast mouse for their holiday supper.

WMNew Year Owls 200

There really seems no end to the wonderful images that are found on vintage New Year’s cards, and I hope to expand my offerings of reproduction cards for that holiday soon. For those of you who still send cards for holidays, (or enjoy them as prints and other items), do stop by and check out my Etsy store, where I have hundreds of wonderful reproductions of vintage images available.