New Year’s Greeting Cards for 2021 – 年賀状

New Year’s Greeting Cards

2021 has just started! How do you spend these days?

I got one question from my non-Japanese friend. She asked to me how to write “New Year’s Greeting Cards”. I was surprised she wrote her message to her boss in workplace in hiragana. Boss will be surprised and glad to receive the warm card. In this column, I wanna introduce what is “New Year’s Greeting Cards” in Japan and so on.

What is “New Year’s Greeting Cards” ?

年賀状 ox

We call “New Year’s Greeting Cards” 年賀状(nengajyou, ねんがじょう). Once in a year we exchange this postal card with friends or relatives or coworkers. Usually, we write and send this post card in December to be delivered on New Year’s Day. We write messages and recent private news to wish a happy new year each other. We often have a picture of that year’s zodiac animal printed in the card. Zodiac animal for 2021 is ox(うし)!

New Year’s Greeting Card is similar with the practice of exchanging Christmas Cards in foreign countries.

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Typical messages

There are some typical messages for this card. Here are examples.

  •  あけましておめでとうございます (akemashite omedetougozaimasu) means “A happy new year”
  • 去年はたいへんお世話になりました (kyonenha taihen osewani narimashita) means “ Thank you for your kindness last year”.
  • 今年もよろしくお願いします (kotoshimo yorosiku onegaisimasu) means “Wish keeping good relationship with you in new year”
  • 今年もよりよい年でありますように(kotoshimo yoriyoi toshide arimasuyouni) means “ Wish you will be happier than last year ”

And we add some private news or massages, for example, “I married last year”, “We had new kid last year”, “Let’s meet again soon” and so on.


I wanna introduce two small additional topics related with New Year’s Card.


New Year’s Card is a postcard issued by Japan Post. Each post card has printed own number for lot. Japan Post announces winning number around mid-January every year. One who has this number can get television, food gift and stamp set and so on by Japan Post. This is kind of promotion for the card by Japan Post. I could get stamp set only so far though…


These days many people use social network services (SNS) like LINE, Facebook and Twitter etc. More young generation use these social network services for saying “Happy New Year” instead of New Year’s Card. It is very interesting that telecommunication companies announce to phone users to refrain from sending messages around midnight of January 1st because too big data may cause some problem on telecommunication system.

Anyway, sending message by postal card is good means of communication, I think. These days we rarely send letter written by hand. If you get postcard, you will feel something special. In addition, this letter may be the chance to communicate with people you rarely communicate in daily life.

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