Royal Mail Reassures The Public That It’s Safe To Post Greeting Cards

‘Coronavirus: Royal Mail confirms Mother’s Day cards and gifts are safe to post home’ headlined the Mirror, which was among the media to have helped reassure the public that they will not be risking spreading the Covid-19 virus by sending greeting cards.

Royal Mail issued a press release a few days ago with the backing of Public Health England (PHE) advising that people receiving cards and parcels are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus as a result of their post.

‘From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or parcels’ states the release.

Aware that self-isolation measures will mean that families are less likely to physically be spending time together for Mother’s Day this year, Royal Mail has developed a special parcel postbox for the event. Royal Mail introduced the UK’s first ever parcel postboxes in locations across the country, last year. The parcel postboxes mark the first major repurposing of the postbox in the last 160 years.

Above: The special Mother’s Day parcel postbox in Swansea.
Above: The special Mother’s Day parcel postbox in Swansea.

The parcel postboxes enable pre-paid parcels to be posted through securely designed parcel postboxes, in the same way cards are posted.

Mark Street, head of campaigns for Royal Mail, said “As families become more dispersed, many of us live some distance from our mothers. If you can’t be there to spoil her in person this year, make your feelings known with a card and gift in the post.”

As part of its PR activity to promote Mother’s Day, the Royal Mail press team have furnished media with information as to the origins of the event detailing its intriguing history that stretches back centuries, and originally bore no relation to mothers at all.

Above: The Mayor of Swansea using the special parcel postbox.
Above: The Mayor of Swansea using the special parcel postbox.

In the 16th century, returning to your home or “mother” church, was an important annual occasion. Each year, children who left home at a young age to work as domestic servants or apprentices were allowed a day off in the middle of lent to visit their mother church.

This became an important occasion for rare family reunions. Children returning home might bring a bunch of handpicked flowers to give to their mother. Home-baked Simnel cakes, a type of fruit cake topped with marzipan, could also be brought as gifts, as the Lenten fasting rules were relaxed for the day (so mums need not feel guilty about enjoying their treats).

Royal Mail stresses how the roots of Mothering Sunday in the UK are unrelated to the American Mother’s Day celebration which falls in May. But says that we do owe the US for the modern revival of paying tribute to our mums.

The modern version of Mother’s Day took root in the US when Anna Jarvis formed a campaign to celebrate motherhood, following the death of her own mother in 1905. This led to the US celebration being established in 1914.

Above: A card dating to around 1860 which is within The Postal Museum’s archives which is effectively a Mother’s Day card.
Above: A card dating to around 1860 which is within The Postal Museum’s archives which is effectively a Mother’s Day card.

In the UK, the evolution of the religious holiday was largely attributed to Constance Smith, daughter of an Anglican clergyman living in Nottingham. She had read about Jarvis’ campaign and was inspired to publish a pamphlet entitled The Revival of Mothering Sunday. This resurgence of Mother’s Day was amplified by the First World War, when many mothers lost their sons.

It was around this point that the widespread commercial phenomenon of Mother’s Day cards began. However, more unique examples of cards to mothers can be found from much earlier.

Top: Welcome confirmation that the coronavirus can not be spread though greeting cards.


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