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Snail mail Christmas card takes 50 years to reach neighbouring village

Emptying a postbox in Zurich


A postcard sent from the village of Ibach in canton Schwyz in December 1965 has just been delivered to its destination of Illgau – 13 kilometres away. 

The intended recipient had died, but his son received the slightly yellowing card, on which a bunch of flowers had been painted, in his post on Monday, the Swiss News Agency reported on Friday. 

The Christmas card was in good condition, the son said; only the antiquated handwriting tipped him off that something was odd. When he read the date on the card, everything became clear: it was from December 16, 1965. 

A valley farmer had sent it to a mountain farmer, both of whom have since died. 

The sender had written that he planned to take four young animals onto the alpine meadow the following summer. In addition, he wished the recipient a “gnadenreiche Weihnacht” – a gracious Christmas – and a happy New Year. 

The post office said the long delivery time was a mystery. By’s calculations, the card travelled at five metres a week. Had it been strapped to the back of a snail, which according to a 2013 studyexternal link can motor along at one metre an hour, it would have reached its destination much faster.

The card had been franked with a 10-cent ($0.10) stamp – not enough postage given today’s prices. The son is therefore being asked to make up the 90 cents difference. 

“I think I might take 50 years to pay,” he said.

[UPDATE: 11.08.2015]

In a Twitter response to the story, Swiss Post has said the recipient will not have to pay the difference.

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