Thursday, June 7, 2007

New Years' Cards

Front page of a bifold New Years' Card from 1942

My aunt Nelly is an avid collector of New Years' Cards. She was the first to realize the importance of preserving a typical Flemish transmitted custom in this age where individual cultures worldwide are fastly eroding due to uniform international commercializing, aka Americanization.

Flanders has a unique tradition that has persisted for several centuries and deserves wider attention because of its educational value as well as firming family bonds. It is the writing of distinct New Years' Cards by young children, reading and offering them to their parents, grandparents on New Year's Day, receiving a gift in return.
The appearance of these cards has evolved, subject to the fashions and ideologies of the time. Nowadays they are mostly bifolded, industrially printed, having lost some of their previous luster. Nevertheless they remain a noteworthy aspect of early education in that region.
Children, age 6 -10, pen in their best handwriting on these highly adorned cards wishes for the new year to their family members. The preparations and writing happen in the schools. The reading and presentation is an intimate family affair.
To learn more about this remarkable custom, the history and the ritual, visit my aunt Nelly's informative website with English version and her blog.

A New Years' Card dated 1851

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