Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Back in the beginning of 2018, I wrote a post about the site’s statistics in 2017. I meant to do one of those posts every year… but seem to have forgotten about it last year. Sorry, everyone! So, without further ado, here are some of the Postcrossing statistics for the year of 2019.

5,100,682 postcards received

For a few years now, we seem to have stabilized at around 5 million postcards exchanged per year, which is pretty neat and puts us on track to celebrating 60 million postcards in late 2020. Who’s looking forward to that party? 🎉

25.44 days (average) and 16.94 days (median) travel time

Do you still remember the difference between an average (or mean) and a median? To calculate the average of a set of values, you sum all the values in your set and divide them by the total number of items in that set. This is great if your values are more or less well distributed, but outliers (both large and small) tend to disproportionately distort the end result.

Enter the median, which can be roughly described as the “middle” value of a data set. If you put all the travel times in a looong ordered line, 17 days would be the value in the centre of this distribution. This is a more reliable value to determine how many days most postcards travel before reaching their destination. Some will be quicker, some will be slower, but on the whole, postcards seem to travel somewhere around 17 days. This number hasn’t changed much over the years.

26,836,704,573 kms (or 16,675,555,116 miles) of total traveled distance

That’s enough to go to Neptune and back 3 times! That number is so gigantic, it sure makes me happy that postage is no longer calculated according to the distance traveled

19,993 km (or 12,423 miles) was the longest distance traveled by a postcard

That’s CN-2803565, exchanged between jessicastier in Xian, Shaanxi and LalyVillablanca in… Wait, can you try to guess which country that postcard traveled to, without looking? Which country is most likely to be the antipodes of a city in central China? 🤔 To check whether you’ve guessed correctly, have a look at the postcard’s page.

964,324 postcards were sent from Germany 🇩🇪

No surprise here, Germany continues to be the most active country in Postcrossing with over 964K postcards sent from there. Here are the other countries and territories in the top 20:

RankingCountryPostcards sent
1🇩🇪 Germany964,324
2🇺🇸 U.S.A. 631,917
3🇷🇺 Russia600,844
4🇳🇱 Netherlands243,805
5🇫🇮 Finland 219,883
6🇨🇳 China206,578
7🇹🇼 Taiwan184,779
8🇧🇾 Belarus141,269
9🇯🇵 Japan135,628
10🇨🇿 Czechia135,115
11🇫🇷 France115,193
12🇬🇧 United Kingdom113,527
13🇵🇱 Poland89,051
14🇨🇦 Canada84,649
15🇭🇰 Hong Kong55,600
16🇧🇪 Belgium54,741
17🇱🇹 Lithuania48,795
18🇦🇹 Austria47,863
19🇦🇺 Australia47,293
20🇨🇭 Switzerland45,741

Sidolix sent the most postcards

That was close though! Once more, well done to our fleißig German members. To be fair, it’s easy to be an enthusiastic postcrosser in Germany, where postage is still reasonable and postcard shops are plentiful in most places.

RankingPostcrosserCountrySent
1Sidolix🇩🇪 Germany2,512
2uttia4a🇩🇪 Germany2,511
3hepman🇩🇪 Germany2,407
4ned44440🇮🇪 Ireland2,398
5Antje321🇩🇪 Germany2,374
6Matin🇩🇪 Germany2,365
7tullipan🇩🇪 Germany2,365
8Willi🇩🇪 Germany2,316
9Silke45🇩🇪 Germany2,312
10rosenbusch🇩🇪 Germany2,310
11Kekel🇩🇪 Germany2,264
12DJHK🇩🇪 Germany2,230
13Rehus🇩🇪 Germany2,207
14Emillio🇨🇿 Czechia2,205
15Bock🇦🇹 Austria2,194
16elbe🇩🇪 Germany2,192
17bas31🇨🇿 Czechia2,182
18TimSarah🇩🇪 Germany2,171
19ho-modellfan🇩🇪 Germany2,169
20Rosenquarz🇩🇪 Germany2,150

710 meetups organized in 54 different countries

Soooo many of you organized meetings to celebrate Postcrossing with other members of the community in 2019 — from Italy to Oman, Singapore to Iran, Seychelles or Isle of Man, postcrossers got together in all continents except Antarctica. Hurray!


And that’s it for last year! If you’re hungry for more numbers, Postcrossing has a group of pages dedicated to statistics where you can find more data to explore.

on

Tags: ,

Sometime ago, we received a wonderful handcrafted postcard from Noa (aka Chenoah) in Germany. On it, she mentioned the struggles of living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a debilitating chronic illness. She also mentioned how Postcrossing is an outlet for her creativity and helps her connect with the world while being housebound.

Over the years, we’ve heard from several postcrossers with similarly serious conditions, about how important this activity is for them — sometimes on aspects that hadn’t even crossed our minds. So, in an effort to raise awareness about these realities and understand them a bit better, we’ve asked Noa a few questions about her life and her interaction with the world through Postcrossing.

For someone who doesn’t know, what is it like to live with chronic fatigue? What are some of the challenges that you face?

Chenoah from GermanyWhen they stumble upon the word “fatigue”, healthy folks think of being tired… but clinical fatigue is more like an overwhelming exhaustion that healthy people don‘t experience. You’re so exhausted that you might be unable not just to move (thus leading to muscle weakness) but also unable to even grasp your own thoughts or speak. It’s not something that can be relieved by a couple of good nights of sleep or even a few weeks’ long holiday. It’s an exhaustion without a cause, that leaves you totally drained.

For instance, when I brush my teeth, I need to rest for a while afterwards, so that I can then attempt to slowly eat breakfast. And when I don‘t let myself have a break afterwards, digestion won‘t work well or even temporarily stop entirely. So it’s the little things that most people won’t even consider tiresome, which wipe me out entirely.

It’s hard to be taken seriously by doctors (especially as a twenty-something female), and it took me 8 years to arrive at an accurate diagnosis and to find a physician willing to treat me. And naturally, until your condition has been diagnosed, it’s hard to get health insurance companies to help. Besides these more technical things, are the very personal ones. I‘m relatively isolated. My regulars are my husband, my substitute carer friend, who lets him off duty for two hours each Friday, and my physiotherapist who does house calls.

Nevertheless, I am still fascinated that I have someone by my side. The more ill you are, the less opportunities of meeting people there are. Visits are a rare highlight, because they exhaust me terribly, and the same goes for phone calls. One friend is allowed to call on a regular basis. She‘s a “spoonie” too — which means, someone with illness that comes with extremely raised fatigability and difficulty in recovering energy. It‘s a whispered call with long pauses and lots of muffled laughter. Sometimes we cry together, which is a good thing. And then we laugh some more, because her jealous borderline-narcissistic cat Romi is screaming like an infant to get her attention.

How does Postcrossing work for you? What can you do yourself and on what parts do you help with?

Everything I do is slow and there are lots of interruptions, because I need some rest, but I am glad that the website is very well structured and I‘ve never lost my way so far.

Chenoah from GermanyPicking a card is a long process. I start with reading the profile and getting a feel for the recipient, sometimes looking into the favorites. I obviously can’t go out and shop for postcards, which I loved to do. I do have a huge stash, but walking to the boxes can be “iffy” and involve some help. Usually I end up in bed again, with 3 cards and the final decision postponed for after a break.

A concept or decoration will be thought up and I very consciously give my love, my time and my precious energy to the postcard. Art and creativity is totally my thing. I have found materials and ways to draw and paint in bed (I love water soluble crayons!), and I‘ve sent out some original artwork before or crafted cards using a print. My first two professional cards are in print at the moment, which is really exciting. They are published by a cooperative supporting initiatives helping people in all kinds of disadvantages, locally and globally.

Writing the Postcard IDs can be a little tricky, as my short-time memory is very impaired. My solution: I rap or sing them. This way, I manage to write four digits at once and the rest in a second go. Same goes for when I need to register the cards I receive.

My postcards are brought to the postbox by my husband, or the other two regulars. Even the physiotherapist has been my Postcrossing assistant a couple of times.

How does postcard writing help with some of the challenges?

Chenoah from GermanyI‘ve always been pretty active and busy… but no longer being sure that you can finish a certain task in time, is definitely not a good feeling. In this sense, a postcard can be quite therapeutic: it‘s just a piece of cardboard with an empty space, that even on not so good days looks manageable. I am able to take a postcard, hold onto it, focus my attention on the task of sending someone else a greeting. Though that might not sound like much, it actually is.

I‘d been studying psychology, when illness struck, and I am well aware of how easily chronic illness can lead to depression. Helplessness and desperation together are a really dangerous mixture. Being active changes your perception of the situation. You’re not as much at the mercy of your illness, but a human being doing something.

There are even some growth opportunities in Postcrossing. I don’t like profiles that are very demanding or defining what "real postcards“ are, or those that are mainly about collecting. As I have no way, to fulfill all those demands, in the beginning, I felt horribly cornered and was quite close to throwing in the towel. Now I am able to send them something made with love, time and more effort, he or she can imagine. Who knows when they last have been properly loved on. And of course I learned to let go, once I‘m done. I am not responsible for the happiness or contentment of another person. I try to do something for my recipients, the rest is entirely up to them.

What is your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

I love how it allows me to re-enter the world. In average years, I leave the house like five times a year, mostly to go to doctor’s offices or clinics. I‘m no longer able to watch TV, listen to radio, or be on social media, so the world I formerly felt part of, seems now very much disconnected. I‘m 42 years old now, but do often feel a culture shock not unlike someone who has been imprisoned for a long time when I am confronted with developments, topics, … I have no knowledge of or experience with. And I do have an urge to know about the world and it‘s people, as well as be part of the world.

I‘m scared of disappearing from the public eye so entirely, that I‘m kind of buried before I am actually dead. And despite my limitations and my little overall energy, the quality of this energy is very much alive and I am not planning of changing something about it. It just feels warm and fuzzy, to be able to share it with some random stranger friends. I‘ve been blessed with a few even becoming friends. We communicate per mail and email.

The postcards I get are like colorful specks of the world I miss so badly. We Germans even have words for it, “Fernweh” and “Weltschmerz”. I think, self perception happens almost always in the context of the world or groups of people you chose to surround yourself with. Isolation is a bummer and has you redefine yourself without the world… but I wanted a context, structure, a frame. And there came a welcoming rectangle, called postcard and invited me, to fill it with whatever makes me me.

And so the world, even though still very pixelated, is becoming perceivable again. Which makes me feel very grateful. Thanks a lot Postcrossing!

Do you have other hobbies or causes that you are passionate about?

I want the world to become a fairer and more peaceful place. And of course, to keep the world inhabitable, so I always try to not rush into decisions, but to be conscious and make as many healthy choices as possible. Anyone can help. I’ve got a small amount of money invested as Kiva loans, and I think of it as a human investment. My gain is, that I helped getting someone come closer to safety and being able to support a family.

I love animals so much that I am the godmother of Frederik, a teenager pig, growing at light speed. He has done the unthinkable and jumped off a pig transporter, only a few hours old. And he survived. I’m still completely in awe. I support Hof Butenland, the sanctuary at which he is at home now. (It’s a senior facility for former dairy cows, but they do have some other animals too). I am vegan, as best as I can under my given circumstances.

Then there is music. I’ve always been a musician and my wonderful husband and I formed a bond over immediately clicking musically, grooving and improvising including vocal harmonies, as if we had done this for ages. He is now my main carer and burdened by my illness as well. We still attempt to do one concert per year, and I sing and play strapped to my wheelchair, with my legs propped up onto a piano stool, to minimize the risk of losing consciousness. Of course, health-wise it’s a tremendously costly passion, but for my soul, it is sheer bliss because it really is my husband‘s and my favorite way of being a close unit. And we always transport messages and support causes with our concerts. So this is not just music: it is speaking out, being heard, contributing to a world and global society that is more just and fair than it is currently.

MEmi dolls, from Chenoah

I am also an ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) advocate, and I became a crochet artist when I became bedbound. And I‘ve made about 130 small dolls, called MEmis for fellow ME sufferers and a few others in need of some comfort, love and connection. Each doll is one of a kind and was made especially for this person. This project is coming slowly to an end, as I‘m no longer able to use Facebook, where many MEmi recipients are connected and where I received most requests. But as some even have their own blogs or social media, it seems to live on. Most “live” in Germany, but about a dozen is scattered all over the world.

This is still just a fraction of my interests and passions, as I am easily inflammable when it comes to enthusiasm and joy. And my dedication, once formed, doesn’t just go away.

Thank you Noa, for putting so much of your precious energy into this interview! ❤️ If you have some minutes to learn more about ME/CFS, we recommend this TED talk.

on

Tags: ,

The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s 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!

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s the start of a fresh year, and inevitably some of us will be thinking of kickstarting some of our postponed or idealistic goals with renewed vigor. Scientists say writing down your goals makes you more likely to accomplish them… so maybe sharing them with other postcrossers will also help? 😊

In January, write about your goals and resolutions.

Written postcard

I’ll go first then and share one of my goals for 2020, which is to learn a couple of new Chinese characters every day. I’ve challenged myself to take a language exam in July, so I’ll be working on building up my vocabulary until then. By making the goal deliberately small, I hope I can build up some momentum, and keep it going until the exam date. Wish me luck!

Regardless of whether you call them new year resolutions or perhaps just goals, which objectives or challenges will you be working on this year? Share them with others on the postcards you write this month, and let’s cheer and help each other along the way!

on

Tags:

As promised, here are a few more highlights from the postcards received to celebrate the 150th anniversary of postcards. All of these make us happy, whether for the text, image, or perhaps for their surprising execution! You can click the images to make them bigger.

150 years of postcards - highlights

Marta from Spain sent us the postcard on the left, bearing a simple but meaningful message, with charming hand-painted decorations. On the right, a handmade postcard from Mary in Russia, who mentions enjoying the opportunity to make unique postcards for her recipients and practice her English skills on the cards she sends out.

150 years of postcards - highlights

This next postcard was handmade by Jessica from the USA and it contains little stars that jiggle when you shake the card! Her message on the back is equally nice and reads: “Postcards have truly let me meet and learn from all walks of life. They help me find my fellow peacemakers. Although the internet helps connect, the emotional investment of sending and receiving a physical correspondence is a true joy no email, comment or like can duplicate.”

150 years of postcards - highlights

Here are two more postcards that made us swoon, from Steffi in France on the left, and Barbara in the Netherlands on the right. Aren’t they exquisite? We love it when people add a little extra something to the message side, and these small illustrations are really sweet.

150 years of postcards - highlights

Liudmyla from Ukraine knitted this cute postman bear, carrying lots of mail to celebrate the big 150th anniversary. What a treasure!

150 years of postcards - highlights

Erika from the Philippines wrote a long and thoughtful message about the joy that postcards bring her at the end of a long commute, and how they broaden her horizons. Daria from Russia, on the right, drew these perfect mailboxes and wrote about postcards being a concise expression of friendship.

150 years of postcards - highlights

We’ve also received a few shaped postcards, but this one was particularly surprising… it’s a party plate! Tali sent it from the USA, with a fitting message: “Postcards are like mailing a smile”. 😍

And that’s a wrap on the 150 years of postcards posts! We’re planning to post more images on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) throughout the coming months, so keep an eye on those if you’d like to see more of these postcards.

So, for the big reveal: we received a total of 1141 postcards! Keep an eye on your mailbox ceabcowen, your guess was the closest and we’ll be mailing you a little surprise.

And last but not least, thank you everyone for your enthusiastic participation in this project. It was an honor to celebrate this historical milestone with all of you, and we hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we did. Onwards, to another year of adventures and happy mail stories!

on

Tags:

If picking the most creative postcard images on the 150 Years of Postcards contest was a tough job, choosing three best messages was even harder. All these heartfelt words tugged at our heartstrings and it seemed impossible to put a postcard down, or somehow judge some as “better” than the others… how to choose?!

In the end, the three postcard messages we’ve picked are all different, but special in their own way. So here they are, in no particular order.

Annie from Wisconsin USA, sent a postcard with a very simple message, which neatly sums up our feelings about postcards:

“A postcard is a hug sent through the mail.”
Annie's postcard

We liked this quote so much that we ended up printing it in a big font and featuring it front and center at the UPU exhibition in Switzerland. The other side of the postcard is a quilted masterpiece, featuring both fabric and stamps (see it here).

Juice sent in a postcard featuring her own handmade design of a tree in Autumn (see it here). She wrote:

Juice's postcard
“As someone with loosely-settled roots in many places, sending postcards gives me a chance to spend precious moments with friends, family and acquaintances across the world. I cherish the opportunity each card gives me to pass a little time with another person, across geographic and temporal boundaries, and I find the transformations each card undergoes in the mail, along with the new light each card is illuminated by in the hands and eyes of its recipient, almost inexplicably magical. In today’s world, it is perhaps more important than ever to attend to how and what we communicate. Postcards provide refreshing ways to share feelings, ideas, and time not only with words but also with images, physical objects, and embedded love.”

Well said! We also often think of postcards as time that we spend with someone far away, and imagine our words being held in that person’s hands, bearing the marks of a long journey across the world.

And last but not least, Claus from Germany sent a postcard showing an illustration of a mail carrier in Hamburg (see it here), with beautiful stamps. On it, he wrote a short but delightful poem about postcards:

Claus postcard

"Postcard!

A picture
A thought or two
A stamp
A touch of paper
The beauty of it all.

Out in the open
Close to the heart.

Memories in the making
Memories to keep.

Please, Mr. Postman, come again soon!"


Congratulations to the three winners, who will each receive a box of 100 postcards as their prize!

Next week, we’ll bring you some more highlights from the nice postcards that have landed in our mailbox for the 150 years of postcards celebrations.

By the way, would you like to try guessing how many postcards were received? 😊 Leave a comment below with your estimate (a number between 500 and 2000), and next week we’ll reveal the grand total and send a little something to whoever gets the closest guess first, without going over it. Good luck!

on

Tags: ,