I received this dandy postcard this week through Postcrossing, and it's a good one to post on New Year's Day. It's a nengajō (年賀状), which is a traditional New Year's postcard sent in Japan.
According to Nippon.com, a website about Japanese culture:
"The practice of sending New Year greetings is believed to date back to the eighth century in Japan, but there is no record of who sent the first greeting or when. The custom is thought to have grown out of the social convention of sending written seasonal salutations when people were unable to make personal visits. Today nengajō, or New Year’s cards, fulfill a similar role to the Christmas card in other countries, although they are sent out in much larger numbers and typically come in the form of postcards. On average, each household will receive around 50–100 nengajō. ... Rather than deliver them early, post offices hold on to nengajō cards so they can distribute them on the morning of January 1. In a traditional ritual of the New Year period, workers and temporary staff at the more than 20,000 post offices around the country hold an early morning ceremony before taking bundles of cards to local households by van, motorbike, or bicycle."What a wonderful tradition!
Read more on this topic at Nippon.com, Wikipedia, and The Japan Times, which detailed nengajō do’s and don’ts in an article last month.
Have a Happy New Year. And consider making 2016 a year in which you write and send more letters and postcards!