Monday, January 10

National Letter Writing Week

Dear Reader,

Has anyone else heard of this? National Letter Writing Week? I just caught a tweet from Wordnik claiming that this is so (and, presumably, started this Monday), followed by a cool little link to a page listing various writing-related terms, a word-list called Penmanship.

But I can't find the source for this declared observation. There's an eHow article that corrects my presumption and puts "Universal Letter Writing Week" at Jan. 8-14 (or was that last year?) and offers suggestions of recipients for various letters, if you can't come up with any on your own. For me, the problem has never been sitting down and writing a letter: it has wholly revolved around coercing, tricking, or forcing anyone else to write back.

Awareness for this week seems to have exploded in 2008, according to my cursory and undisciplined research. A women's website, BellaOnline, also offers suggestions for types of letters to write as well as a short inspirational bibliography in the same vein. Here's an especially vacuous blog post about the event, courtesy The author collects stamps but the imagination he expends on this article rings a little limp. By accident I found a dead-fascinating article on letter writing under Japanese Etiquette in Wikipedia--otherwise, Wikipedia seems to have never heard of this week-long observation.

  • Int'l Society for Friendship and Good Will says they "sponsor and promote" this Week in their list of yearly Observances. Did they create it? No idea, but I've never heard of any of their other Observations, either, so... maybe!
  • The Smithsonian Institute's National Postal Museum features a vintage art deco post that places the Week at October 17.
  • Without citing a source, the DermaNetwork (for Clinical Dermatology) brings up the Week as something to observe while sitting in the waiting room for your dermatology appointment. Their topic suggestions are equally surprising ("Write a letter to someone you know who has great skin").
  • Holidays for Everyday, a preschool educators resource, refers to "National" Letter Writing Week as early as 2007. No source.
  • At least one stamp collector is looking for a 1980 Thai commemorative stamp for International Letter Writing Week, but this source does not say which week that was. If you don't believe in 1980, you can buy a later version of this stamp from 2008. It would help to speak Spanish, in this case.

Does anyone reading this know anything more about it? I'd love to hear from you.

Your pal,

P.S.: A bunch of sites claim it's actually in October. From the contexts I've glossed over, it looks like it used to be in October maybe a century ago, but now someone's started it up again and placed it in January. Can anyone clear this up?


The Missive Maven said...

I've never found an official source for this, either, and I share your skepticism. I'm all for encouraging letter-writing, but... which week is it? Says who?

Incidentally, I just stumbled across your blog doing a search on this very issue. Can't believe I haven't visited this fine blog before. You're now linked on mine (which, by the way, has some hints and resources on how to find people who really do write back).

Christian said...

Aw, thanks for writing! I found the discussion you were having in Fountain Pen Network--it seems like this 'Week' is a mystery all the way around. Is it really that easy to just start up and declare something's an official week for whatever cause?

Maybe I'll declare Get To The Bottom Of This Week, wherein people have to research their own belief systems.