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Letter writing used to be a common form of connection prior to the use of the telephone and the internet. And pen pals are those special folks who have regularly written back and forth to each other via postal services. 

Pen Pal Day is here to celebrate this form of building a friendship through the writing of letters!

History of Pen Pal Day

Hundreds of years ago, pen pals were, of course, limited to those of the wealthier classes who could read and write. But some of the most interesting people throughout history were influenced by their pen pals. Letter writing matches such as Catherine the Great and Voltaire or Groucho Marx and T. S. Eliot were an interesting and unlikely set of people who were pen pals.

The first organized notion of having a pen pal started somewhere around the 1930s when the Student Letter Exchange was founded. The organization started matching pen pals together with students from other countries. This allowed them to share information and exchange knowledge of their cultures and places while making new friends across the world.

In addition to gaining a pen pal through a service like the Student Letter Exchange, people would also find friends to write letters to through mutual acquaintances, family members or even the newspaper. People would take out personal ads in newspapers and magazines hoping to find a friend they could exchange letters with.

The advent of technology has transformed the way that humans across the miles are able to communicate. But there’s still something very special about writing, stamping and sending an actual letter on paper. And there’s something even more special about receiving a personal, handwritten letter in the mailbox!

Pen Pal Day was established by a woman named Rosie Tholl, who has not only had many pen pals over the years, but who has also traveled all over the world to meet them! Rosie was the coordinator of the Illinois Pen Pal Picnic Reunion as well as being the co-coordinator for Pen Pals United.

Pen Pal Day is here to encourage the idea of writing letters to bring back this tradition that seems to have gone a bit by the wayside!

How to Celebrate Pen Pal Day

Reclaim the art of writing letters by celebrating National Pen Pal Day in some of these ways:

Write a Letter

For some, this might seem like a simple task. But for those from a younger generation, this could be the first time! Celebrate Pen Pal Day by getting out some paper and a pen and writing a letter. Include information about the basics of daily life or tell a funny story. Put the letter in an envelope, address and stamp it, and pop it into the mailbox!

Sign Up for a Pen Pal Service

Since pen pals are traditionally strangers, perhaps signing up through a pen pal service would be a fun way to get a match for National Pen Pal Day. A quick online search can reveal a few different ways to find a match with another person who wants a pen pal too.

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