Ukrainian Postcards Record More Than Travels

“Gorgeous weather”, “Having a great time” and “Thinking of you”- the language of postcards rarely changes from culture to culture around the world. Often considered obligatory by the writer, happily read by the recipient, in a world of text messaging and email, the postcard has always been a cherished method of correspondence – especially by Ukrainians.

Lystivka” or “small letter”, the first postcard to be mailed in 1893 in Ukraine made its postal appearance in the western part of Ukraine called Halychyna which at the time was considered part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As the word for postcard was closely associated with “lastivka”, the Ukrainian word for swallow, postcards in this part of the world are often associated with the coming of spring.

Primarily sent in the early years as a way for the sender to describe the writer’s impressions of a landscape, one’s health, or communicate warm feelings to the recipient, holiday destinations by Ukrainians have not been the only images to grace this thin piece of weighted paper travelers send by mail over the years. Over the centuries, Ukrainians have used the postcard to trace their history and culture depicting famous monarchs and Cossack leaders, icons and sculpture, and landscapes both before and after 20th century wars including battle scenes.

Hunting for old postcards is a long-established tradition by many travelers and with the plethora of street markets in all the major cities in Ukraine searching for images of this country’s history is an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon. Postcard collectors abound around the world, however, so competition for these little gems may be fierce. Even if you do not find object of your desire, street vendors have plenty of contemporary postcards to send so make sure to keep a record of your travels the old-fashioned way. Send a postcard from Ukraine!