Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

The Psychology of Sending Greetings Cards

greeting cards

There’s no feeling quite as sweet as opening a card from a loved one. From birthdays and graduations to congratulations!” and commiserations, there’s a greetings card suited to everyone in every situation. 

A good greetings card publisher helps us mark special occasions in such a lovely, tangible way. Spoken words are great, but written words in a beautiful card that we can keep forever? Incomparable.  

Greetings cards have been around since the 1400s, which is a testament to just how invaluable they are to society. Even in this fancy digital age, it’s still incredibly common to give (and receive) a greetings card to let somebody know that you’re thinking about them. 

But what’s the psychology behind sending greetings cards? We know they’re nice to have and to hold, but does it go deeper than that? 

Historical significance 

The history of greetings cards can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians and Chinese, who used papyrus scrolls and other materials to send messages of goodwill on special occasions. 

In Europe, we first saw the greetings card tradition in the 1400s. To mark the Christmas and New Year holidays, people would exchange handmade cards as a compassionate gesture. 

It wasn’t until the 1840s that the world saw the mass production of greetings cards, and the industry has moved from strength to strength ever since. 

Cultural significance 

Greetings cards are popular across many cultures all around the world. Western, Asian, Latin, and African cultures all use this gesture to convey messages of love, appreciation, and friendship. 

Each will use greetings cards to mark personal milestones, such as birthdays and weddings, but they also use them to mark holidays traditional to their individual culture.  

For example, China, Japan, and Korea will send cards to celebrate traditional holidays, such as the Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival. 

In a similar wayLatin American cultures, such as Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, use greetings cards to mark Dia de los Reyes Magos, and Dia de la Madre. 

The art of sending and receiving greetings cards has certainly evolved over the years. In the beginning, they were often used to promote social and political causes, such as in support of the women’s suffrage movement in the 1800s. 

As social values changed and adapted, so did greetings cards. In the early 20th century, cards began to display more realistic and diverse images of people. This type of inclusivity made people of different backgrounds feel more understood and valued. 

Today, greetingcards are still used to celebrate traditional holidays and events, but they’re also used to mark more personal milestones 

It can be problematic not to receive a card from a loved one when celebrating something wonderful, like the birth of a child, or when going through difficult circumstances. 

Emotional impact 

Greetingcards can have a direct impact on our emotional wellbeing. Usually sent in response to a significant event that’s already full of emotions, greetings cards can intensify our thoughts and feelings. 

For instance, graduating from university is a monumental milestone that could make you ecstatic, anxious, proud, and even a bit sad, all at once. It’s an incredible achievement that marks the end of an era, and (typically) the end of your time in education. 

To receive a card from a loved one, with thoughtful words and a pretty design that expresses their pride, can escalate these already acute emotions. But in the most wonderful way! 

There are psychological benefits for both the sender and recipient of greetings cards. When we send out a card with a goodwill message, we strengthen our relationship with the receiver, which in turn makes us feel good. 

Additionally, sending out greetings cards gives us a creative outlet to exploit. There are millions of designs and messages available, and then you have an additional opportunity to personalise the card inside.  

Why do we like receiving cards? Well, that’s pretty obvious. Greetings cards make us feel valued and special, whether they acknowledge that we’re celebrating a birthday, leaving a job, or just going through a difficult time. 

A greetings card is a tangible reminder that someone is thinking about us, and it’s a way to connect with someone we appreciate. 

The digital age 

It’s difficult to find something that hasn’t been impacted by the digital age. As of April 2023, there were 5.18 billion internet users worldwideThat’s 64.6 per cent of the global population! 

Socialising, networking, learning, communicating… a large majority of it has all been taken online. Naturally, then, the art of sending greetings cards has been overshadowed slightly.  

For some, posting a ‘happy birthday’ message on a Facebook profile feels like a decent alternative to sending a cardPerhaps it is, if the person is only an acquaintance, but for the people closest to us, nothing compares to sending and receiving a special greetings card. 

The rise of the digital age has only served to make greetings cards that much more powerful. Sending a card is the best way to break through all the digital noise and break up the monotony of texts, emails, and social media posts.  

Long live greetings cards! 

Fortunately, many people are still under the impression that loved ones deserve more effort when it comes to goodwill messages, which is why technology will never fully eradicate greetings cards. 

There are too many psychological benefits to sending and receiving cards, as well as a history too rich to forget about. When was the last time you sent a greetings card? Why not send one today, simply just because? 

Photo by Kate Macate on Unsplash