New Year’s Day is a very special holiday in Japan. Naturally, greetings
on that day are very important to start the new year socially, as well
as in business. There used to be a custom during the first few days of
the new year of calling on relatives, neighbors, superiors at work and
those who had bestowed kindness over the preceding year. But after the
post office began issuing postcards in 1873, people instead began sending
these cards as a form of greeting.
To receive the cards on the morning of January 1st is one of the joys of
New Year’s Day. You can hear at least once a year from those you do not
often meet. People receive them not only from their friends and relatives,
but also from their colleagues and business acquaintances. The number of
New Year’s cards issued for 2007 by the Japan Post was 3.79 billion.
The cards often feature a picture of an animal representing the year. (There are twelve zodiacal animals representing each year in a 12-year cycle based on the ancient Chinese concept.）The wild boar is the animal of 2007.
Sending New Year’s cards is a custom like sending Christmas cards. But New Year’s cards shouldn’t arrive before New Year’s Day. Another difference is that Japanese people do not exchange New Year’s cards with those who have lost a loved one during the past year. If you receive a “mochu” notice in December, you should refrain from mailing a New Year’s card to the sender. (A mochu notice is a postcard excusing the sender for not sending a New Year’s card because of being in mourning.)Rreferences;