We just love giving cards in Britain. If there’s a special occasion coming up, there’s no doubt we will be there, card in hand, to celebrate it. And this isn’t just for birthdays, we give cards when people are ill, when they have got a new job, passed a driving test even if you forgot somebody’s birthday, there is no need to panic because there are even "sorry it’s late" cards. So you can pretty much find a card for any occasion.
And of course, now that it’s Christmas the shops have been taken over by cards with Santas and snowy scenes, wishing people “ Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”.
Before coming to Italy I had never even considered that our obsession with card giving might not be shared by other countries. In fact, my colleagues told me that hardly anyone sends Christmas cards in Italy and that they actually don’t really give birthday cards either! I was shocked. In the UK , if a close friend or family member didn’t get me a card I’d feel upset!
However, I should have realized it might be different here when the only place you can buy cards is in the cartoleria which sells stationery, school things and paper along with a very limited choice of cards. In comparison, we have whole shops dedicated to them in the UK. We even have different types of card shops, some for those on a budget where you can buy five cards for one pound and others offering higher quality cards and prettier designs.
Although cards can take up your time, from choosing the perfect one, to thinking up the personal message inside (although you can get cards that do the hard work for you), I think it’s a really nice gesture. And especially with Christmas cards, it adds to that festive feeling. When I sit down to write the countless cards to friends and family (and in the past even to teachers) I get that little bit more excited that it will be Christmas soon! Not to mention when I see my own Christmas cards, proudly sitting on my window sill wishing me a very merry Christmas.
Of course, the problem comes when they’re no longer needed, when Christmas is well and truly over. It makes me sad just to throw them all away, so I try and hang on to my favourite ones.