Back in the UK it is possible to buy a card for just about any conceivable situation; from 'Get well soon' to 'Happy Birthday to your budgie' or so it would seem. Funny cards, rude cards, classic cards – you name it and there is most probably a card that will catch your fancy and delight its recipient. Cards are big business in the UK and, I think this is still true, there are even shops which sell not much more than a range of cards. Of course if you cannot find that card for that occasion then you can buy a blank one and adapt it. You can get boxes of Christmas cards so you don't have to extend your overdraft even more to provide your workmates with a nice little card at Xmas. Greeting cards are everywhere and they are easy to find, only the sheer choice can throw you into bouts of indecision.
Italy is the same, surely. I mean everyone sends cards, don't they? You may be wondering. Well no. Italy is different from the UK in this respect. There is a very limited card culture here. As a rule you don't sent Christmas cards, nor do you send birthday cards or just about any other type of cards here. About the only time you need a card is when you are going to see someone and it is his or her birthday or some other such notable occasion, but even then a card may or may not turn up.
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
This cardless society causes problems for those of us who come from card sending societies. Simply locating a decent birthday card can be a major endeavour. They do sell cards here, but the selection is incredibly limited, so much so that yours truly now knocks something up on the PC and sends virtual cards on those occasions that merit them. Getting hold of a reasonable number of Christmas cards to send back to Blighty is just about impossible unless you really want to spend a small fortune on cards that you really do not like and that will most probably end up causing you to lose certain friends, seeing as the cards you could find and send here are the types of cards that anyone in the UK would send to people they really do not want to be friends with anymore.
I know it's a silly little difference between the UK and Italy, but it's something you notice around birthday time – my son's in this case (see entry before this) and even our Italian friends bemoaned the fact that they could not get hold of a nice card. So, if you are reading, Cardmakers of the World, perhaps you could come on out here and develop yourselves a nice new market for coloured and folded bits of card. I think there is a market here, but I just cannot understand why it has never grown. Although now, in the days of mobile messages and email the days of the traditional card may perhaps be numbered. But add half a pound of marketing men, stir in a little ad man and throw the results on the TV and hey presto you've got a nice little money spinner. Yes? No? Possibly.