Postcrossing Blog

Stories about the Postcrossing community and the postal world


By now, most of you will be familiar with the EUROPA stamps initiative that we talk about every May… but this year, we have a special treat for you!

Banners for EUROPA stamps competition, featuring an illustrated octopus

Our diligent interviewer Clarisse (aka CStar9) talked with Agnieszka Trząskowska, Chairwoman of the PostEurop Stamps & Philately Working Group, who answered some questions about the EUROPA stamp program! Here they are to give us more insight into its history and ambitious future.

How would you say EUROPA stamps are connected to the individuality of each European country, and connected also holistically to the character of Europe as a whole? 

The key to understanding the global phenomenon of EUROPA stamps is the European Union motto “Unity in diversity” (dating back to the Middle Ages), celebrating the mixture of different cultures and their integration within the present idea of a so-called common Europe. The idea derives from the thousands-year-old European civilisation, particularly Greek & Roman (the name of EUROPA comes from Latin), and the common ideas, values, history, nature, and cultural traditions that have been developed over subsequent generations.

EUROPA stamps logo

Europeans are proud of their cultural richness. There are 24 EU official languages (143 European languages in total). There is cultural diversity at national, regional and local levels—including hundreds of microcultures from Greenland in the west to Kazakhstan in the east. This tangible and intangible heritage such as nature landmarks, scientific discoveries, ecology, social topics, folklore legends, literature, and arts, is an inexhaustible source of visual inspirations and creative interpretations of the common EUROPA stamp themes.

Behind each of the 56 EUROPA stamps issued every year stands a unique story. EUROPA stamp reveals these unique heritage treasures, boosting mutual understanding and diversity acceptance, building pluralism among Europeans, as well giving us inspiration, motivation for self-development, and a pathway to engage in crucial topics of society.

In addition, non-Europeans may feel like modern-day explorers discovering new worlds of the European heritage with these stamps every year—including allowing nearly half of present Americans to travel to their ancestors’ past. Finally, we believe that EUROPA stamps attract collectors around the world thanks to their universality.

Can you speak to what you see as EUROPA stamps’ role in raising awareness of important issues in Europe?

Besides building national identity, stamps are also part of social dialogue that engages the public in important contemporary issues. Good examples include EUROPA stamp issues themes such as “Nature reserves and parks” (1999), “Water – Natural Treasure” (2001), “Integration through the eyes of Young People” (2006), “Ecology in Europe – Think Green” (2016), and “Endangered National Wildlife” (2021).

What’s on the horizon for the EUROPA stamp world? Anything you’re particularly excited about? Within the Postcrossing community, there are many collectors of EUROPA stamps. Anything you’d like to say to them?

First of all, we would like to thank all collectors and admirers of EUROPA stamps for their commitment and shared passion for each year’s issues. We believe that combinations of EUROPA stamps and postcards may evoke positive emotions and build friendship as part of intercultural dialogue.

As for the present activities, the 2024 EUROPA stamp competition for the theme “Underwater Fauna & Flora” is now open, through 9 September 2024. You are all invited to join the 2024 EUROPA stamp competition!

A mashup of different overlapping postage stamps, all on the theme of underwater fauna and flora

This year, awards for the most beautiful 2024 EUROPA Stamps will be given to three top ranked stamps and the award ceremony will be held at the PostEurop General Assembly in Belgrade, Serbia, in October 2024.

The themes for the next few years have already been chosen by postal operators. In 2025, we’ll have stamps on the topic of “Archaeological discoveries”. As 2026 marks the 70th anniversary of the EUROPA stamp, the PostEurop Stamps & Philately Working Group will hold a competition for a common stamp design motif, the theme of which will be “70th anniversary of EUROPA stamp. United in…”. For 2027, the EUROPA stamps will focus on “Street Art”.

You heard Agnieszka — it’s time to vote on the most beautiful EUROPA stamp of the year!

2024's theme of “Underwater Fauna & Flora” brings us a gorgeous selection of stamps predominantly in blue and green tones, that seem like tiny porthole views out of a submarine cruising the rivers, lakes and seas in Europe. There are fishes, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, nudibranchs and marine mammals, but also algae and seagrass meadows! Do have a look through this year’s stamps, vote, and let us know in the comments below which ones are your favorites! 😍


Our team member Iris (aka scrutiny) has recently tried a fun postal-themed game, and we thought this could be an interesting topic for a blog post, as I bet there are a lot of other gamers in the community. 🧑‍💻 So here she is, to tell us all about it!

"Have you ever wondered what it would be like processing mail in a post office if you had no hands? Specifically, if you were a pair of exotic birds with no hands? This is the premise of a video game named KeyWe, that was first brought to our attention by postcrosser Nathalie (aka Ezri). She mentioned it on the forum the day the game was released, back in August 2021. I finally had the opportunity to play it, and it is as fun and chaotic as it sounds.

Screen from the game KeyWe, featuring 2 kiwi birds running around with envelopes, a person making mail deliveries, and octopus, some emus and other messy things

The protagonists are Jeff and Debra, two adorable kiwi birds who sign up to be associate teleposters at the Bungalow Basin Telepost office. The game is co-operative (meaning two players can play together to achieve the common goals), but it also works with a single player pressing a button to switch between Debra and Jeff.

In this cute puzzle game, your abilities as a gamer don’t prevent you from having fun with it. It has similarities to the popular game Overcooked, but with less stress and a lot more mail. The goal is to process incoming and outgoing mail before the clock runs out. If this stresses you out like it did me, you’ll be relieved to know that you can switch off the time limit under game options, so the countdown won’t appear.

Two illustrated kiwi birds sit on the morse code machine, looking at radio instruments on the desk

I personally don’t have life experience as a kiwi bird, but after playing this game, I imagine it must be quite inconvenient. It involves a lot of running around since you are small. When you have to do things like typing out postcodes to stick to packages, you have to jump on the buttons and levers with your kiwi butt.

My favourite part is when Debra and Jeff have to label packages as “urgent” “perishable” and “heavy” by sitting on the label dispenser so that the labels stick on their behinds, so they can be carried hands free to the packages.

Two illustrated kiwi birds sit on the post office desk, while a man makes a delivery to them. Random objects are scattered around (a box with fruit, an hourglass, a fire extinguisher, an old camera, etc)

There are various mail floors, so the setting for the tasks doesn’t get monotonous. There are overtime tasks to take on for extra bonuses. There are cassowaries to feed and exercise, and you’re occasionally overseen by an octopus named Zoey, whose eight arms put her at an unfair advantage. You can collect postal stamps at the completion of every shift, which are used to unlock wardrobe accessories for Debra and Jeff (in case you’ve always wanted to see a kiwi bird in a little hat).

The game is available for the Switch, PS4 and 5, Xbox One and XIS and also on Steam. It’s a great way to kill some time and I have a new appreciation for the hands I possess!"

Hurray for postal-themed games! Do you know any other games featuring mail that we could try? 😍


The cover of James Barron's book on about the One-Cent Magenta, showing a few photos and a small image of the stamp

I try to review a range of different kinds of books about post: my own interests are pretty wide-ranging and I read books of all kinds of genres, so it’s fun to seek out new things! So this time I thought I’d read some non-fiction: James Barron’s The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World.

Stamps in and of themselves aren’t a huge interest of mine, though I understand the urge to collect things very well, and there are some really amazing designs on stamps. So before reading Barron’s book, I didn’t know anything about the “one-cent magenta”, a stamp now considered probably the rarest in the world. As a stamp issue, it was pretty humdrum: it was issued in British Guiana, as a stop-gap measure when the real stamps didn’t arrive. It was issued along with a 4-cent magenta and a 4-cent blue, which aren’t nearly so famous, and it’s not exactly very attractive. You can make out a signature, and a bunch of smudging, and some very faint printed lines, but really it just looks like a grubby bit of paper to me.

So why has it become the most valuable stamp in the world, and why is it so highly sought after? Solely because it’s the only existing example, as far as we know.

A photo of the stamp, which is rather smudged and faded

Really, Baron’s book is not about the stamp itself (you can learn as much on Wikipedia), but about the journey the stamp has taken through the hands of collectors and eccentrics. To me, somewhat bemused about the fuss, it’s mostly interesting as a portrait of the value people can put on pretty arbitrary things. It’s absolutely bananas to me to spend so much money in a way that does so few people any good. Some of the owners just kept the stamp and looked at it on rare occasions—could that really give enough pleasure and good in the world to be worth that much money?!

Consider the possibly apocryphal story about an alleged other copy of the stamp, too. An owner of the one-cent magenta was offered another copy of the same stamp and allegedly agreed to buy it, and then immediately burned it to protect the rarity of the well-known version. It seems so bizarre to me that we can even believe it might be true, but… knowing people, I wouldn’t have been terribly shocked if it were.

I found Barron’s book fascinating in a way—I’m more interested by the idea of reading more about the general history of stamps, but one almost can’t look away from the excesses of most of these collectors. And some of them had very dramatic lives in their own right! It does come out more as a biography of the owners of the one-cent magenta and their colourful lives (including a murder), so bear that in mind. It’s less about stamps than just the human tendency toward obsession, writ large!

For my next review, I’ll probably change things up again and review a new fantasy/SF novel which promises to hold intimate letters at its heart: A Letter to the Luminous Deep, by Sylvie Cathrall, which promises a romance initiated via letters, and then uncovered by the writers’ siblings after they disappear, wrapped up in a fantastical world. I’m eager to read it, so hopefully I’ll get the chance soon!

I haven’t forgotten as well that I mentioned planning a review of Lynne M. Kolze’s Please Write—and if you have any other suggestions for books I should read and review, there’s a forum thread for that. (To view and post there, you may need to log in and spend some time browsing and participating in the forum first!)



The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcards’ messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

This March, I had the honour of attending my childhood best friend’s wedding, which got me wondering about different wedding customs around the world. Sometimes weddings are religious, and sometimes they’re more like big parties, and they can vary a lot with local customs and traditions. So that’s the prompt for this month: tell us about weddings!

In May, write about what weddings are like in your country. How are they celebrated?
A photo of someone holding a bouquet of white and yellow daffodils, made out of paper

My own wedding was pretty non-traditional. I did wear a white dress which wasn’t a world away from being a wedding dress, but it didn’t cost thousands of pounds (which is pretty common for wedding dresses in the UK). I also didn’t have a train or a veil, though I did carry a bouquet… though my bouquet was pretty non-traditional as well, since it was made of daffodils (the national flower of Wales), and the daffodils had been made of paper for me by my partner. It meant I could keep my bouquet forever, though it’s been battered around a bit when we moved. We got married in the town hall in Leuven, and exchanged rings in front of just a few friends (and the interpreter who was there for me, since I don’t speak Flemish!)… and afterwards we went back to our flat and had a picnic, followed by going out that evening to introduce my friends to Belgian chips.

My best friend’s wedding was a bit more typical: full-length white dress, veil, etc, and with a lot of family present. It wasn’t a religious ceremony, so it wasn’t in a church, but it was in a dedicated wedding venue and there was a procession down the aisle. Afterwards there was a photography session, and then sit-down meal with speeches and toasts. It was all a lot more fuss than my wedding, with both families present along with the bride and groom’s friends.

My best friend did make all the flowers for her wedding out of paper, though, so we had that in common!

I think all the weddings I’ve attended have been a bit different, really… British weddings can be all kinds of things, depending on the bride and groom’s backgrounds. What’s it like in your country? Is there a traditional sort of wedding? Are they large or small occasions? We’d love to hear more, either in the comments to this post, or your postcards in May!


Today is Earth Day, which means it’s time for our annual report on the expansion of Postcrossing’s tiny forest!

Some years ago, as part of our commitment to minimizing Postcrossing’s ecological footprint, we started organizing a new type of meetup: one without postcards, in which people roll up their sleeves and plant trees instead! This year, it happened on a bright sunny day in early February, and the location chosen was adjacent to last year’s plot — which was perfect, because we had a nice view over last year’s trees, and also of the ocean in the distance!

If you’re new to these blog posts, you might not know the history of the Pinhal de Leiria, a 11080ha (29146 acres) pine forest in the center of Portugal that was planted in the 13th century, in an effort to stop the sand dunes from coming inland and conquering arable soil. The forest stood for centuries, and the wood from it was even used to build the Portuguese caravels that sailed around the world in the 15th and 16th centuries… but it burned almost completely back in 2017 in a devastating wildfire. Since then, several groups and organizations come together every year to do the laborious work of replanting the forest, tree by tree. Including us, the postcrossers from Portugal! 💪

Paulo inserts a tree into the pottiputki tube

After a short briefing on how to plant trees for the newbies, we were off! This year, we had the help of 2 professional “planters”, two men hired by the organization to speed up the plantation — they had lots of experience in these things and were amazingly fast! Paulo also managed to get a hold of an extra “pottiputki”, a metal tube with a beak at the end, that speeds up the planting of seedlings. It’s heavy, but very handy!


The whole morning, our group carried trays of seedlings, dug holes and cozied over 3300 trees in their new homes in the sandy dunes, all while chatting back and forth, and even singing some popular hit songs! Sand is relatively easy to make holes in, and I think we all felt really grateful that we didn’t have to dig through packed soil and rocks to make room for our baby trees. As in previous years, we planted maritime pine, a species native to South Atlantic Europe that is well adapted to the coast that thrives in our cool, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.

Girls kneel down to plant trees plant trees. Men plant trees and dig up holes for more trees.

Planting trees is hard work, and we were thankful for every pair of hands that came to help. At the end, we had a lively picnic in a nearby park, sharing food and Postcrossing stories, and everyone felt chuffed with a job well done.

 A group of people standing/sitting on a hill where trees have been planted,  smiles and waves to the camera

These environmental themed meetings are becoming a favorite of ours, and we’d love to see them replicated in other countries too. If you know a good organization in your area that might need a hand planting trees, picking up trash, doing a wildlife census or some other activity that could benefit from a group of enthusiastic people with lots of hand and arm muscles (from all that postcard writing!), why not organize a meetup to give them a hand? 💪

PS: A big thank you to Tetyana (aka tatytrofamets), for being our brilliant photographer for the day!