January is National Thank You Month.
(National Thank You Day is 9/15 – Don’t worry I’ll remind you!)
I suspect that it may be due to the fact that many write thank you notes for their holiday gifts this month, so maybe it’s Hallmark generated? Whatever the reason, make sure you say “thank you,” this month.
Origin of “Thank You”
The month-long recognition got me thinking about where the saying “thank you” came from. “Thank you” was taken from the phrase, “I thank you,” which according to Wikipedia’s Word and Phrase Origins, “the word “thank” derives from the Old English verb “pancian,” meaning to give thanks, which in turn derives from the Proto-German term “thankojan,” which also spawned the Middle German term “danken,” meaning to thank.” (PHEW!) It was meant as a way to express good thoughts or gratitude. Thank you Wikipedia!
Early Thank You Notes
This of course led me to now wonder about the origin of the actual thank you note, so I did some more digging. ehow.com* was a great resource where I found out that “thank you notes” started with the Chinese and Egyptians, who shared messages of fortune and goodwill on slips of papyrus. In the 1400’s, the Europeans expanded this practice and began exchanging and locally delivering handwritten notes as a new way of social expression.
Early versions of what we now know as greeting cards weren’t introduced into America until the mid 1800’s, all thanks to German immigrant Pouis Prang. However, he wasn’t responsible for the formal practice of writing and sending thank you notes. We can thank the etiquette books for that, as they began promoting and recommending proper practices for showing our appreciation and the formal writing of thank you notes several years after the greeting cards were introduced.
I love showing my appreciation to others for their kindness and assistance and believe that saying “thank you” and sending thank you notes are two of the most important things we can say and do in today’s society.
Too often the practice of expressing one’s gratitude gets lost in the shuffle of daily life or on the flip side is forgone because there are some that feel entitled to any/all assistance. On this latter view, these people often feel that because they deserve the kind gesture, help or good will, there is no reason to say “thank you.” I strongly disagree with this notion. Kindness and assistance are things that are shared and given by another – they are not a given right. To say thank you only takes a minute, or a little longer if you are sending a note, but extends the kindness further.
Here Are Just a Few Reasons To Say “Thank you”**
- When you are the recipient of a gift
- When someone (family member, friend or stranger) holds the door open for you
- When a colleague, co-worker or industry professional has provided their time, advice, assistance or an introduction
- When the restaurant server at your table brings the food and after she/he has cleared the table
- When a family member has helped you in one way or another — yes they deserve to hear it too!
** Some of these instances would also be followed up with a handwritten or typed note.
As noted earlier, this will be part of a three-part post. In my follow-up posts, I’ll focus on when to send thank you notes and tips on writing them for personal and business/professional audiences. Please feel free to send me your ideas and input on this subject. I’ll do my best to incorporate your feedback into these two posts.
Have you said “thank you” recently?
*Additional thanks to Jennifer Dermondy’s ehow.com article.