Valentine’s Day equals Mandarin Ducks

There is so much hate! Violence against women and children has increased during the pandemic and various lockdowns. There is so much road rage. I wrote about this in my blogpost on the pandemic and on how artists stay well balanced in a world that seems to resort to aggression and depression. Because of this excess of bad temper, hate and depression is important to celebrate Valentine’s Day joyously. We all know that Valentine’s Day is a bit silly, commercially driven, and for the young.

Yet, this year is different. We have not seen our friends for ages. why not send a kind card to all your friends? There is no need to limit card sending to your lover, crush or best friend. We could spread Valentine’s cards like Christmas cards. With sending a card you are saying so much; you are saying that you thought about somebody. That thought made you buy a card. You sat down to put an address on its envelope. Even without a splendid text, you show setting some time apart for making a person realize that he/she is special to you. Add to it your name or a short text, and the message of friendship, bonding or love is sledgehammer clear.

‘Oh, that is nice!’

‘Oh, look at the card from …’

‘How kind!’

Everybody’s heart will make a little jump when being confronted with a bit of unexpected kindness. Especially in pandemic times when people, collectively, suffer from anxiety, cabin-fever, stir-craziness and easily lose their equilibrium. There is nothing wrong with a bit of extra attention and love. And the beautiful thing about mandarin ducks is that they symbolize love and friendship. Like doves and swans (ignore that ornithologists have observed a bit of adultery among these sweethearts).

Mandarin ducks melt our hearts because of their background story on their life long partnership, their cute colours and shapes, and their adorable ducklings.

Paula Kuitenbrower

At Etsy

At Linktree

At Instagram

Sending a Handwritten Card

Dutch Post saw a daily increase to delivering 14 million letters and cards per day in 2020. A few of these envelopes contained my Mandarin Duck note-cards or greeting cards. I hope that every time somebody opened my note card, seeing my mandarin ducks felt that their hearts made a tiny, happy jump. Because that is what Mandarin ducks stand for; they symbolise love and happiness. Seeing these cute and colourful ducks makes people feel less lonely, more connected to a beloved person, whether close by or far away. It is therefore that in Asia mandarin ducks are seen in parks, as little statutes in window sills, and as wall art paintings.

There are many benefits of sending snail mail. There are many good reasons, my life philosophy on handwritten letter, for sending a card to a friend. Let me give you a few:

Writing a handwritten note or letter feels like a meditation,

Writing with ink means detoxing from your smart phone, computer screen and keyboard, (plus exercising and reviving your handwriting),

Buying a card helps to support local shops and/or artists,

Knowing these colourful birds are Mandarin Ducks or in Latin Aix galericulata helps people to grow their knowledge about birds and their names,

. Spreading a bit of love won’t harm. In fact it might help people to feel less lonely or forgotten.

Let 2020 not be an exception but let us keep up with sending letters and cards in 2021. It has given people a feeling of being connected during the pandemic and it has given many an extra reason to make a walk to a nearby mailbox.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At Etsy

At Instagram

P.S. I kept an exquisite Korean art calender given by a friend for years. The quality of paper and the art images were of such quality that the calender simply could not be thrown away. I finally came up with a solution to the old calender; I made sturdy envelopes out of 12 months of visual pleasure and art appreciation. The envelopes I embellished with stickers resembling postal stamps and now I will use these visually, engaging envelopes. They are still too pretty for scribbling down an address. I will put them inside a protective plastic folio and on that folio I will glue an address label. I hope the envelopes will be re-used many times more.

Information

Mandarin duck note card at Etsy (16 euro)

Mandarin duck note card also Mini Print for Framing at Etsy (12 Euro)

Mandarin duck instant download writing paper/stationary at Etsy (less than 1 USDollar)

Website of Just a Card organisation is at www.justacard.org.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Holly or Ilex

Holly Drawing
Notice that I have used a real branch for drawing a Christmas or Yule card. Drawing objects brought home from a park or garden is such a delight.

Holly has a strong cultural resonance. We use it as a Christmas decoration since the Victorian times. In pagan times, it was customary to bring holly boughs in to decorate the house. Holly was a powerful fertility symbol and was supposed to protect a family against ill-fortunes. Holly planted near a home was regarded as a safe guard against poisoning. It also provided protection from lightening. During Yule, we bring holly in our homes to remind us that green foliage will return when the darker days grow shorter.

Every year I send so many Yule or Christmas cards and every year less are returning seasonal wishes. On the one hand I understand; sending cards costs time, energy, and paper. On the other hand, this tradition that dates back to Victorian times, reminds us that in the middle of the long North-European winter, when winter brought hardship, we would send each other well wishes. It was to let people know that you were thinking about them, that you were keeping a person in the light, that you would pray for his/her well-being, or that you wanted to give a sign of life and hoped to receive a sign of life in return.  It is a lovely tradition that has many variations. There were messengers bridging long distances with a message of hope or well being, there were powerful musical instruments being able to be heard miles away that informed villagers miles away of a message depending on which melodies were used, there were postal doves, and now there is email. A dressed up card never loses its charm and although I am too scaling back my list, I hope this tradition will survive text-messages and email.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Midwinter, Yule & Christmas cards at Etsy

Artwork at IG as mindfuldrawing

Website mindfuldrawing.com