World Post Day is October 9 and we’re pumped for a throw back to communication methods of the past with some good old-fashioned letters. Mail carrier services have been in existence since ancient times, and even though we can communicate almost anything (literally) at the touch of a button, there’s no denying the importance of our local postal services…or the excitement of receiving a package in the mail! World Post Day marks the anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Postal Union, and it’s from this humble wellspring that the global communications revolution started and continues to this day.
History of World Post Day
Sending a letter is one of the most iconic acts of showing someone you care. While we may not pay much attention to the processes or regulations that go into zipping our mail around the globe after we lick the stamp, it takes an international team to get birthday cards and online shopping from point A to B.
Origins of what we now know as the postal service date to Ancient Egypt circa 2500 BC, while the oldest official postal service is found in 550 BC Iran. Various civilizations utilized a courier service to pass letters, messages, news, and parcels across empires spanning thousands of miles, inspiring the modern idea of the mailman. The US’s own postal service dates back to Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general in 1775.
On October 9, 1874, the Universal Postal Union was established as a means of cooperation and regulation amongst its member states’ mail services — today it allows mail to flow freely from your mailbox to Timbuktu, and everywhere in between! In 1969, World Post Day was inaugurated at the Tokyo Universal Postal Congress.
Each year, the UPU’s 192 member countries celebrate World Post Day on October 9 to mark the importance of universal mail and the UPU’s contributions to society and the global economy. Countries hold special stamp exhibitions and launch new postal initiatives; India hosts a week-long celebration each year over the week of October 9.
As a testament to bringing people together, the UPU hosts an International Letter Writing competition for children up to age 15. Winners are selected from each country and the world champion is selected by a UPU panel. Not only does the program promote literacy, but it keeps the excitement of waiting for the mail alive and well.
World Post Day timeline
World Post Day Established
The Universal Postal Congress in Tokyo establishes World Post Day.
- October 9, 1874
Treaty of Bern Held
The General Postal Union is established — later to be called the Universal Postal Union.
- September 15, 1874
First Postal Conference Hosted
Representatives from 22 nations gather in Bern, Switzerland, to plan for an international postal union.
Postage Stamp Invented
Englishman Sir Rowland Hill introduces the world’s first postage stamp.
- 225 B.C.
Oldest Piece of Mail Sent
The oldest example of an official post comes from third century B.C. Egypt.
- 550 B.C.
First Postal Service Established
The first organized postal system originates in Ancient Persia on the orders of King Cyrus the Great.
World Post Day FAQs
Who celebrates World Post Day?
Everyone across the globe! World Post Day was created by the Universal Postal Union, which was established to create and maintain a free-flowing system of international mail regardless of country lines.
Where is the Universal Postal Union?
Anyone can visit the UPU in the Swiss capital of Bern, where it was founded in 1874. You can also visit an extensive exhibit on the UPU at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., along with exhibits on national and international mail and stamps.
What types of mail does the Universal Postal Union handle?
The UPU deals with everything from personal letters and classified documents to e-commerce and online shopping packages.
Why do dogs go crazy over mail carriers?
Dogs are territorial — as far as they’re concerned, your friendly mailman is a daily threat to their domain. Plus, they come bearing a bag full of unfamiliar smells from across the globe; that stimulation is enough to drive Buster bananas!
World Post Day Activities
Surprise someone with a letter
Everybody loves to receive a letter in the mail. And since we do most of our communicating online these days, sending something "the old-fashioned way" is a perfect way to honor our shared postal heritage.
Thank a mail carrier
They come to our houses nearly every day. Maybe we should take the time to say hello and introduce ourselves — and to thank them for their service.
Contribute to a food drive
The U.S. postal service organizes a food drive for the second Saturday in May. Help out those less fortunate by contributing. The USPS says they've delivered more than 1.6 billion pounds of food through this program.
5 Amazing Facts About The Postal System
It processes 5,000 letters a second
The U.S Postal Service processes more than 5,000 pieces of mail every second.
It receives no help from Uncle Sam
The USPS receives no tax dollars for operating expenses.
It has ancient English origins
The word "mail" comes from a Medieval English word referring to a traveler's bag or pack.
It used to walk like an Egyptian
The earliest documented evidence of a courier system is from Egypt (around 2400 BC).
It started ZIP codes
ZIP stands for Zone Improvement Plan, begun in 1963 by the USPS.
Why We Love World Post Day
It reminds us to stay in touch
John Lennon once sang that "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." And in the hustle-and-bustle world, it's good to take the time to reach out to those we love. The postal service lets us do that — quickly, efficiently, and for a good price, too!
Postal workers deserve recognition
Although the U.S. Postal Service has no official motto, it is often associated with a quote from the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." The quote is a fitting tribute to postal workers the world over who are tasked with delivering our most precious correspondence.
There's nothing like getting a letter or a postcard
Sure, most of us communicate via the internet these days. But there's just something extra special about opening the mailbox to find a handwritten note from someone far away.