New Year Cards = ねんがじょう = 年賀状
Yay me! I have finally finished making all my 年賀状, printed them all off, written short messages on each, decorated them and sent them!
In Japan every December and through the New Year, people start getting stressed out because (amongst other holiday season traditions like house cleaning, end-of-year work parties, Christmas etc.) they have to design and produce handmade New Year`s cards to send to their friends, family and colleagues.
The tradition is similar to the western idea of sending Christmas cards, but I think the sheer quantity of 年賀状 tends to frighten a lot of people away. I sent 50 cards this year (mostly to people who came to the wedding), Yoshi`s mum will send almost 200 cards, and Yoshi will send a lot too, to customers of his business. Although it is acceptable to print the cards using a computer, each card must have a touch of individuality, and so people often decorate them with stickers and write short messages on each one.
2011 is the year of the rabbit in Japan, so most cards will have some kind of rabbit illustration on them.
Here are some examples I found online...
Some people (who recently got married, had a baby or have children) also design cards using photographs. That is what I did... I don`t know if it is bad luck to show my card to you before January 1st, so... I had better not :)
The year of the rabbit should be a good year, I read online that it should be more quiet and peaceful than 2010 (the year of the ferocious tiger!!). It should be a time for us all to reflect.
Babies born in 2011 should also be very lucky. The Rabbit, or Hare as he is referred to in Chinese mythology, is the emblem of longevity and is said to derive his essence from the Moon. I sure hope that is true.