I hate having to buy greeting cards because my mild neurotic tendencies mean I can spend ages reading all the cards in an attempt to find the perfect one. I also get carried away reading all the funny cards just for the amusement of it which can often eat into the limited time I might have allotted for the task in the first place.

I was in London recently and found myself in a card shop without the usual anxiety because I wasn’t in a hurry and I could browse at leisure. Whatever the situation there is a card available to match.

No need to make that gay or lesbian couple anniversary card anymore, there’s plenty of choice. Recent bereavement; from your budgie or hamster to your spouse, there’s a card offering just the right word or two of comfort. Whether you stub your big toe or have a terminal illness someone somewhere has written a verse that you will identify with, stuck it on a card and hopefully a thoughtful friend will send it to you. And as if I didn’t need any further confirmation that the world of greetings and celebration had gone completely mad I stumbled across the divorce section. Now I can understand a card offering condolence on a recent split or even celebrating the completion of a divorce but try wrapping your brain around this word, “Annivorcery”!

The minute I type it in a big red line appears underneath it suggesting a misspelling. Well it’s not, it is the latest term from the US that is catching on rapidly in the UK and means ‘the annual celebration of your divorce’!

Very bizarre

I have to admit to finding this very bizarre. I have never been through a divorce but I have, like most other humans of a certain age, had a serious relationship split. It was painful and, perhaps, a rite of passage but not something I would want to relive and remember on an annual basis. As I contemplated the term I even thought about people who are delighted to get away from a partner. Regardless the reason and however pleased you are, there is always a tinge of regret attached, even if it is regret over getting involved with that partner in the first place. I always imagined that you would want to start a new life, move on and leave it behind you rather than rotovate the past on a yearly basis; but obviously not.

Further investigation unearthed an online greeting card company, Greetingcarduniverse.com that stocks more divorce cards than wedding and engagement cards. In fact there are three hundred designs to choose from, which makes me really glad that none of my friends who have split up would have appreciated a card. With three hundred designs to choose from it would have been as nightmare for me. The merchandise doesn’t stop at cards. You can buy caps, mouse mats, mugs and other stuff that proudly announces, Happy Annivorcery or Happy Divorce. Everytime you use your computer, have a cup of tea or go for a jog you can remember your ex.

In the late eighties I was invited to a divorce party, way ahead of its time it would appear. It was a female friend who having been separated for several years finally got the paperwork through. It had been a pretty acrimonious split and the party was all about closure as much as it was celebration. I remember the conversations beforehand when a few of us wondered if we should buy a gift and what would be appropriate. There were the obvious jokes about single sliced toasters or single bed sheets. In the end I think we all just brought some wine and left our creativity for another day. To be honest it was strange and weird all at the same time. I felt that it very much resembled a good wake rather than a proper party. If you have been to a ‘good’ wake you’ll know what I mean. The food is abundant, the drink is flowing, everyone is dressed up, there’s even plenty of chat and laughter but there’s just something missing, or maybe that should be something there; a corpse and a coffin. This divorce party was similar but with a non tangible corpse rather than a physical one and some music. It was meant to be a celebration of sorts and yet looking at it another way you were celebrating fifteen years of unhappiness and disaster albeit now at an end. You might as well have been saying, “Well done you for picking out such an arrogant git that made your life hell for years, aren’t you clever!” Of course you could also be saying “Congratulations on surviving such a mess”.


And suddenly I am reminded of John McCarthy and Brian Keenan held hostage in Beirut for all those years. When they emerged of course there was a celebration, a party to welcome them back to the world. Maybe that’s what these divorce celebrations are about. I was finally beginning to understand the divorce party mentality but the annivorcery party was still a little bit of a mystery.

It turns out that an annivorcery party is as much about finding a new partner as it is about celebrating the fact that you no longer have an old one. Confused? I was initially. Apparently the trend started as a way for the recently divorced to announce their new status and, by extension, their availability to date again. One of the ideas attached is that you invite all your single friends and they in turn are asked to bring two other single people along. Amongst the well heeled in the States this is becoming very popular. The guests are mainly professional, moneyed and all are single, separated or divorced. Most people would say that the party is all about celebrating their courage for getting out, but it struck me that if you did marry again, surely you wouldn’t be bothered with the annual divorce party. Therefore it is all about finding a new partner and, maybe, just like a bereavement, a suitable time to announce that you are ‘out there’ once more is one year after the death/split. I have no idea who makes up these social rules or the party rules but they seem to catch on and become the standard.

The divorce trend is rising but only time will tell if the annivorcery idea will catch on here. If you are the enterprising type maybe now’s the time to start branding those t-shirts. I’ll only ask for a small idea royalty! nicholaberesford@gmail.com