The season of New Year’s cards called Nengajyo is coming. We send New Year’s postcards to our friends, relatives to express our resolutions or recent news. By the way, have you received mourning cards? It is called “Mochu-hagaki”. And I wonder what exactly Mochu-hagaki means in Japan.
Until Meiji era, people were visiting house to house which they received favor to tell them thank. Its custom changed to postcards gradually. Then, they became to inform mourning by cards as well as New Year.
I guess some people may miss understand what mourning cards meaning. Mourning cards means to tell people to refrain from sending New Year’s greeting which they suppose to feel happy. It does not mean that they try to tell people “I’m mourning.” Or it does not mean they express they don’t want New Year’s cards from others. To speak of extremes, it is not taboo to send New Year’s greeting to people who is mourning.
If you received mourning cards, you don’t have to response to it soon. After New Year’s week is over, as a matter of courtesy, it is better to send winter greeting called Kanchu-mimai(寒中見舞い). Kanchu mimai has close meaning to sympathy cards.
I think sending New Year’s and mourning cards is great culture and winter tradition. Then, it cannot be changed to any convenience of social network services like Facebook or e-mail. I hope this tradition will be continue forever in Japan.