Things about France that surprised me: the French don’t do cards

In my 13 years living in France, I have not once received a greetings card of any kind from my wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Should I be concerned? No, because the French don’t do greetings cards, not like the Brits.

UK consumers lead the rest of the world in sending greetings cards. In a recent survey, over a third (37%) of UK adults said they had sent a greetings card, invitation or postcard in the post in the last month – the highest in the world and beating Australia into second spot (34%).

I cannot say I was surprised to learn that consumers in France were the least likely to send greetings cards, with only 17% saying they had done so – half the amount in the UK. If anything, I was astonished it was so high. Must be all those British immigrants skewing the statistics.

It’s not just physical greetings cards, I’ve never even received an e-card from any of my French friends, generally just an email thanking us for our Xmas card and wishing us all the best for the following year. Likewise, in response to our Xmas cards, some of our neighbours have sent us handwritten thank you notes.

So why is this?

The sending of cards isn’t as common in France as in some other countries. It isn’t, for example, usual to send someone a card following a bereavement or after passing an exam. Instead of Christmas cards, the French send New Year cards, but only to people they don’t normally see during the year, which is what we now do.

Card to please

Sending Christmas cards is popular in many Anglo countries but it’s not a common custom in France. While it’s nice to get a hand-written card in the mail, I think many people just send them out because it’s considered a social faux-pas if you don’t. In the days of texting, Facebook, carrier pigeons, there’s clearly no need to send Christmas cards.

Because the French don’t send Holiday or Season’s greeting cards, sending Happy New Year cards is pretty stress free. You have the whole month of January to write a non-personal very brief card that will warm the heart the person who receives it. Typically, the card is written on a mignonette, on a greeting card or even sometimes on an old fashion ‘carte de visite’ – calling card.

Also, I think I read somewhere that since 1962, France has had a law that stipulates any letter to Santa must be responded to in the form of a postcard. This is a much better way for postmen to spend their time rather than delivering soulless Christmas cards!

38 thoughts on “Things about France that surprised me: the French don’t do cards

  1. No the French, like me do send New Year’s card Bonne Année to all family and friends , but yes not as much as others even less than the USA for greeting cards such as holidays, Christmas etc. We are very reserve here, like a Republique with Bourbon manners lol!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey! Sharee, thanks for liking my post, Here is a card for you from Alaska…..I buy many cards from my local book-store, they are so beautiful, the creation of many minds, the art-work is to die for, so many talented people. How could I NOT support them, by buying and mailing out those cards? I would like to mail one to you, if I had a mailing address, but I fear you will think I am a stalker or something or some-one evil, I am not these people. Every month I send $100. to my local food bank, I use the most beautiful card I can find, and every month this wonderful lady that works there picks out a card to send back to me, it is like a contest as to who could find the best card…..So, this was a worthwhile subject to put on the Word Press, thank you for that……

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the thought, it’s most kind of you. Please put the cost of the card and postage to France toward something for your local food bank.

        Like

      1. Right, and after I posted that I realized you are one of few who do, quite reliably and admirably. Just testing to see if you were paying attention. I gain weight just reading your delicious recipes! I’m not much of a baker or cook though. Anyway, respect and thanks, Sheree!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I like this idea. I’ve never send Christmas cards
      I have however always sent thank you letters from being a child.
      I love the art of letter writing much more personal than a few lines in a card.
      I hope it’s never completely replace by e mail 😉

      Like

    2. I like this idea. I’ve never send Christmas cards
      I have however always sent thank you letters from being a child.
      I love the art of letter writing much more personal than a few lines in a card.
      I hope it’s never completely replace by e mail 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating cultural difference! Just had my bday and barely got any cards. I still send them. But not holiday cards… Too costly and many peooke don’t even share their mailing address anymore!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Belated happy birthday! Unfortunately, Facebook makes it all too easy to send digital wishes. I still send birthday cards and New Year cards but that’s it.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Neil, I suspect that if you looked at these figures in terms of the ages of those doing the sending, the oldies would dominate. It’s a shame as there’s something rather nice about getting physical thank you notes and greetings/holiday cards.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Brits send cards on holidays? This is the first time I heard about this. I’ve got a Vietnamese acquaintance living in the US, on his birthday, his colleagues sent him a bunch of cards. I thought that was because his colleagues were kind, I didn’t know it was a culture thing lol. 😂 I didn’t know that was a normal thing that you were supposed to do.

    We, Vietnamese definitely don’t do cards. Well, for me, I do make handmade cards for my mom on special occasions but that’s just personal preferences. I sometimes fantasizing about someone sending me a handwritten card too, but that has never happened. 🙂 But I guess if your culture expects you to send cards, that can be really stressful. I wouldn’t want to receive a card that the sender was forced to write.

    Vietnamese has a different custom though. On the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year), we would gather at each other houses and give greetings and wishes. So yeah, instead of sending cards, you have to say it directly, face-to-face with a person, with a bunch of other people staring at you, curious about what kind of thing you came up with. Super stressful, I always messed up, I would much prefer to be writing a card. At least only the receiver will know what I wrote, unless they decided to share.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And imagine you have to come up with different wishes for everyone in that gathering, listening to you. A wish has to be at least 3 sentences long (that’s kind of the unwritten rule, too short and you’re rude). I’m seriously out of idea and I am already afraid of the next Lunar New Year, which is in February.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I do try to put a different message on each one, in a number of different languages, to give it that personal touch. Though to be honest I don’t send many cards, generally no more than 30, decorated with my favourite photos from the year past.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I take thousands of photos each year, the tricky part is choosing just 8. Then cards are made up by a photo company using my photographs.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s always so interesting to hear about customs in different countries. I still send handwritten thank you notes but only send physical birthday cards to my nearest and dearest. The rest get their’s courtesy of Facebook. I send out New Year’s cards rather than Xmas cards as I have a number of friends who don’t celebrate Xmas. I design these myself and they’re usually adorned with photos from our travels. Some, but not all, also receive a letter summarising our year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That sounds really cool and unique by adding your own photos! ❤️ It must have taken you a lot of time, your friends must have really appreciate it. You pour your heart out into those cards.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I was in Vietnam during that stupid war, The Vietnamese People decided it was an Invasion that needed to be fought-off, just like all the others, and so you fought for freedom from those invaders, tho, I was one of them,the ‘Invaders’ I came to admire that strength of will, the Vietnamese people displayed, to keep their “Home-land” for them-selves. Ho Chi Minn only told his people to defend their Home Land, And now, and now, the invaders are gone, we pretty much have peace here, now, after all these centuries of fighting off invaders, we have peace now, We just try to do the best we can do, with the bombs no longer falling like rain upon us, the farmers, who provided the food, the people who were grateful for that food, and paid for it, without complaint, for, without the farmers, where would we be Right Now? You, the Vietnamese People have such a beautiful land to enjoy, I was blessed to have been there and seen it for myself…

      Like

  4. Well how they miss out! Aren’t cards just the bestest things to receive and give? Just a piece of reinforced paper really but they make such a difference. It used to be more frequent, this custom of sending cards, when I was a child. In Calcutta, we used to buy cards for every occasion. My fondest memories are of looking forward to my uncle’s cards that arrived before my birthday every year without fail. It also thrilled me that he thought of us when he travelled and sent postcards with atmospheric missives. You are right about the Anglo touch. He lived in London. No wonder he was so particular about them. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The French way seems more practical. Christmas cards shouldn’t be a chore,”one more thing I’ve gotta do!” when the holiday season is already so busy and potentially stressful. Handwritten notes are special. A handwritten note inside a card makes it more meaningful. Thanks for sharing this interesting lesson in culture.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Dear Sheree, I have a collection here in my home, of , what I think, are the most beautiful thoughts the people could ever collect, all, hand drawn by local artists, It is so beauty full, these eyes of my neighbors to see: This world in front of them and Share-ee them with me. I am the lucky guy; to be the recipe-ant, of those wonder-full missives….. I think of my friends and then pick out a card from my collection to send to them, just to tell them that I Love them, and at this moment in time I am thinking of Them, I sign my cards with Love, for that is all I have to give…………

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.