lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 Under normal circumstances, in America, FB would be Facebook for a lot of people, right?  WELL... if you're a German pen pal (and trust me, if you are a German woman of a certain age, I think it's a fair guess to say that you either are, or have experimented with pen friending at some point in your life,) FB stands for Friendship Book.  

What is a friendship book?  It's... okay, it's usually handmade, here's a picture of one sent to me:


german friendship book

Inside the booklet are people's names and addresses. Some people handwrite their addresses, but others have address labels specially printed for FBs, which include a whole lot of mysterious acronyms.  "NPW" = New Pen Pal Wanted.  SNNP = "Sorry! No New Pen Pals!" (I'm considering keeping a list handy, because some of them are counterintuitive.)

Often people will include the various languages they could potentially correspond in, you might see "NPW in English, François,.." etc.

How you use this is kind of like a chain letter, only much less malevolent.  One person starts it (in the case of my example above someone has started it for someone else), and they send it on to one of their pen friends. That pen friend adds their name (and whatever notation they might like), and then they pass it on to one of their friends.  When the booklet is filled, it's returned to the original, initial address.  Sometimes these are used to actually gain new pen pals, but sometimes they're just sent off into the world to see how far they go before they come back.  There's apparently a whole subculture of FBs, which... weirdly, I am now part of, that include things called "decos" and "crams." In addition to the several books that have now been passed to me from German pen pals (this is REALLY a German thing,) I also received a Friendship Sheet

Here's another couple examples of what they can look like (sorry this is a little blurry.)

more FBs

If anyone out there wants to be part of this German pen palling thing, let me know. I should note that it's not unusual for people from other countries to have gotten roped into this.  The only thing they need to have had is a German pen pal.  I've seen names from Russia, Japan, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Austria, and I'm not the only US pen pal to have been part of one of these.  

It's a weird/cool thing. Feels very retro, very 1980s.  It's kind fun.

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