Bahai News - Holiday greeting cards cover the globe
Holiday greeting cards cover the globe
November 9, 2001
BY CATHLEEN FALSANI RELIGION WRITER
My husband calls them "guilt cards." Most of the rest of the world
calls them Christmas cards.
He's better at sending them than I am, and I'm better at feeling guilty
about not sending them than he is.
They've started appearing on store shelves, and I've started thinking
about the list of people that I should send them to but probably won't
because that's what happens every year.
Two unopened boxes of Christmas cards with three cheerful nuns ice
skating on them are still sitting, dusty, in the corner of my home
office. Mocking me. Daring me to try again this year.
And now, to add to my holiday-greeting-card-related angst, there are
cards for a slew of new holidays. Actually, the holidays are old, but
the cards are new.
American Greetings, e-greetings and Yahoo Greetings all offer electronic
or downloadable greeting cards for nearly every Muslim, Buddhist,
Baha'i, Hindu, Jain and Earth-based religious holiday, in addition to
Christian and Jewish holy days--and I don't just mean Christmas, Easter
There are cards for Ramadan, Sukkot, Purim, Bodhi Day, Samhain, Wesak,
Divali, Holi, Passover, Lent, Kwanzaa, Rosh Hashanah, Tu B'Shevat, Eid
ul-Fitr, Buddha Purnima, Jamshedi Navroz, Mahavir Jayanti, Raksha
Bandhan, the Birth of Bala'u'llah and all the solstices.
That's a lot of holiday greeting cards to send--or, in my case, to think
about sending, not send and then feel bad about for another year.
In the past five years, the market for non-Christian holiday cards has
taken off, according to Marianne McDermott, executive vice president of
the Greeting Card Association.
"The Jewish cards were there before and have picked up, but I really
think the Kwanzaa cards led the parade," McDermott said. "I don't have
set figures, but, from everything my members have told me, they're
increasing every year."
Greeting cards have been around for hundreds of years, beginning with
valentines in the 15th century in Europe. The first Christmas cards
appeared in the mid-19th century and became a cottage industry in the
United States after the turn of the 20th century. More than 70 percent
of American households buy at least one holiday card every year, the
Greeting Card Association reports. Christmas cards still account for the
bulk of these--60 percent--but other religious holidays are slowly
Not that sending greeting cards is an intrinsic part of every religious
Most Buddhists let Bodhi Day--the anniversary of the Buddha's
enlightenment--and Wesak--the celebration of the Buddha's birth--pass by
without ever having a Hallmark moment.
Though more electronic greeting cards for Diwali--the most popular
holiday in Hinduism--have begun showing up recently in the e-mail box of
a swami I know, it's hardly an age-old Hindu custom.
My Jewish friends tell me the only people they usually get Hanukkah
cards from are their non-Jewish friends. Hanukkah really is a minor
Jewish festival, but a market for Hanukkah cards has been created, it
would seem, for Christians who don't know what to send their Jewish
friends at Christmastime.
Traditionally, if greeting cards are sent to mark a Jewish holiday, it's
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
For more than a century, many in the Islamic world have sent greeting
cards to mark Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the two most important feast
days in the Muslim calendar. In recent years, the options for Eid and
Ramadan cards have multiplied exponentially. While they have yet to make
a big splash in mainstream stationery stores, hundreds of Muslim holiday
cards are available online. Yahoo Greetings offers 31 varieties for
"Over the last two years, I am amused at how the traditional greeting
card companies have sensed these changes and are taking commercial
advantage of it," said Kareem Irfan, president of the Council of Islamic
Organizations of Greater Chicago, referring to the rapid growth of the
Muslim community in the United States. "They really tapped into this
This year, the U.S. Postal Service even issued a special stamp
commemorating the Eids.
"It isn't a religion greeting per se," Irfan said.
The Arabic script on the stamp, he said, translates to: " 'May the
festival be blessed for you.' You could send it to any faith
If I do get around to sending holiday cards this year, I know what stamp
will be appropriate for any occasion. And, in the true holiday spirit, I
can feel guilty about not sending cards year-round.
©Copyright 2001, The Chicago Sun-Times
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