Have we lost the thrill of the mailbox? It’s the anticipation as we open that little box to see what magical items have been placed there just for us. Over the past two decades the excitement has faded away. Yet we still sift through the advertisements and bills with the faint hope that we will find something personal – a direct connection with someone we know or love.
On a larger scale, “The decline in letter writing,” according to a Newsweek article by Malcolm Jones, “constitutes a cultural shift so vast that in the future, historians may divide time not between B.C. and A.D., but between the years when people wrote letters and when they did not.”
Australian Richard Simkin felt that loss of connection. As the founder of World Letter Writing Day, he became interested in the power of letters in the early 1990s. According to Simkin, WLWD is “a day that people all over the world will pick up a pen or pencil and write a letter – it’s that simple.”
Here are 5 reasons that you should take the time to celebrate World Letter Writing Day:
1. Letters engage all of the senses
In the 70’s, strawberry scented stationery was a thing. If you didn’t have any on hand, you could always spray some Charlie into the air and wave your paper around in the mist. We wanted the recipient of our letter to associate us with a pleasant smell; one of the most effective and emotional memory triggers.
For extra fun, we might also include a little lagniappe with our letter - a four-leaf clover, a pressed flower, or a photo. Try doing that with email.
2. Make History
When you write a letter, you are creating a primary source document. Sure, future humans can study emails and texts, but they usually don’t contain the thought and introspection of a letter. Stand out from the billions of communications flying about the interwebs. Leave a tangible record of your thoughts and feelings during your time on earth.
3. Postage Stamps are Gorgeous Works of Mini-Art
Stamps are beautiful. When you send a letter through the postal service you have the opportunity to delight your friends by choosing a stamp that is beautiful and reflects your unique personality. Most stamps are “forever,” meaning that they will remain valid even if postage rates rise, so stock up on some favorites.
4. Lots of Kids Don’t Know How to Mail a Letter
ReadWrite.com contributing writer Brian Hall laments that “[his] son – days away from graduating from high school – does not know how to send mail through the U.S. Postal Service.”
An example of the letter address by Hall’s son, a high school senior.
Addressing a letter may be an old-fashioned skill, but is it wise to have it go the way of sock-darning? Like boiling an egg or starting a campfire, letter writing and mailing is simple to learn and comes in handy when you really need it.
5. For Some Occasions, Email and Texting is Just WRONG!
A few years ago, my cousin passed away at a relatively young age. Living out of state at the time, I couldn’t attend the funeral. I did, however, write a letter to his dad. In it, I told my uncle how his son had always looked out for me - the youngest of the cousins. I also reminisced about some of the fun times we had together.
A couple of years later I visited my uncle. With tears in his eyes, he told me how much that letter meant to him, and showed me where he had put it in the family bible.
Even though it may seem hopelessly out of touch with the reality of 21st century life, writing a note of thanks or a letter of condolence is equal to giving the other person a gift. It is a part of you that they can hold in their hands and read over and over.
So celebrate World Letter Writing Day this year. Just “pick up a pen or pencil and write a letter – it’s that simple.”
Visit the World Letter Writing Day site at