The child on this 1920 French postcard by Sergio Bompard looks so darling. I noticed, though, the greeting was French for Happy New Year. This puzzled me as it wasn’t a Christmas postcard and she’s dragging toys. So, I looked into French New Year’s customs.
I found out that French families throw dinner parties for the entire family and exchange gifts on Le Jour des Étrennes, the day of New Year’s presents (originally March 25th). Previous to adopting the reformed calendar in 1852, they would then send fake presents on April 1st, the culmination of the New Year’s feast, as a joke to those who’d previously received gifts on March 25th. Note, the reformed calendar changed the beginning of New Year from March 25th to January 1st.
French people still prepare special meals for friends and family, but fancy restaurant meals and dancing occur as well now. As for the April 1st custom of sending fake gifts- now, funny cards with fish pictures are exchanged anonymously.