I’ve collected a sequence of New Year’s Day cards (+ one poster) from a century ago, when separate New Year’s Day greeting cards were issued by the thousands, both in America and Europe. The collective “Season’s Greetings”/ “Happy Holidays” cards began to dominate the message after World War II, with the consequence that New Year’s now seems to be a mere afterthought of the Christmas celebration. New Year’s Day cards are interesting because they feature an assortment of trans-Atlantic traditions and tropes which are supposed to bring good luck in the next year: pigs are very popular, as are the traditional horseshoes and clovers. There are babies, of course, and the occasional champagne glass or bottle. For some reason, mushrooms appear on a lot of cards, particularly European ones, sometimes with gnomes, sometimes not. I thought I’d feature “year” cards–in chronological order–from the first decade and a-half of the twentieth century, from my own collection and that of the New York Public Library Digital Gallery. First off, cards from Germany and Switzerland, followed by my very favorite card (1904): a lady on a pig against a background of four-leaf clovers, holding a glass of champagne. And mushrooms! How lucky can you get?
“Smoking New Year’s”, evoking the two-faced Janus, by artist and illustrator Frank Graham Cootes (1879-1960).