‘Tis the season for hundreds and hundreds of kids to sit down and write their annual letters for the North Pole’s most well-known resident. While sending a letter to Santa Claus may appear such as a pretty straightforward process, it’s possessed a colorful-and at times controversial-history. Here are 10 facts and historical tidbits to help you appreciate what it requires for St. Nick to deal with his mail.
1. SANTA Employed To SEND LETTERS, NOT RECEIVE THEM.
Santa letters originated as missives children received, as opposed to sent, with parents using them as tools to counsel kids on the behavior. By way of example, Fanny Longfellow (wife of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) wrote letters to her children every season, weighing in on the actions across the previous year (“I am sorry I sometimes hear you are not kind for your little brother as I wish you were,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851). This practice shifted as gifts took on a more central role within the holiday, along with the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. But some parents continued to create their kids in Santa’s voice. Probably the most impressive of such might be J.R.R. Tolkien, who every Christmas, for pretty much 25 years, left his children elaborately illustrated updates on Father Christmas along with his life within the North Pole-filled up with red gnomes, snow elves, along with his chief assistant, the North Polar bear.
2. ORIGINALLY, KIDS DIDN’T MAIL THEM.
Ahead of the Post Office Department (as being the USPS was known until 1971) presented an alternative for getting letters from santa packages with their destination, children developed some creative tips to get their messages where they found it necessary to go. Kids in the United states would leave them through the fireplace, where they were considered to become smoke and increase to Santa. Scottish children would increase this process by sticking their heads the chimney and crying out their Christmas wishes. In Latin America, kids attached their missives to balloons, watching as their letters drifted in to the sky.
3. It Once Was ILLEGAL To Reply To THEM.
Kids had one additional reason not to send their letters throughout the mail: Santa couldn’t respond to them. Santa’s mail used to visit the Dead Letter Office, in addition to almost every other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though many individuals offered to answer Santa’s letters, these were technically not allowed to, since opening someone else’s letters, even Dead Letters, was versus the law. (Some postmasters, however, violated the guidelines.) Things changed in 1913, if the Postmaster General produced a permanent exception to the rules, allowing approved individuals and organizations to reply to Santa’s mail. Even today, such letters really need to be made out explicitly to “Santa Claus” if the post office is certainly going to enable them to be answered. Like that, families actually named “Kringle” or “Nicholas” don’t accidently their very own mail shipped towards the wrong place.
4. A CARTOON HELPED SPREAD THE POPULARITY OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If a person work may be credited with helping kickstart the concept of sending letters to Santa Claus, it’s Thomas Nast’s illustration published in the December 1871 issue of Harper’s Weekly. The image shows Santa seated at his desk and processing his mail, sorting items into stacks labeled “Letters from Naughty Children’s Parents” and “Letters from Good Children’s Parents.” Nast’s illustrations were widely seen and shared, being within the highest-circulation publications from the era, and his Santa illustrations had grown in a beloved tradition since he first drew the figure for that magazine’s cover in 1863. Reports of Santa letters winding up at local post offices shot within the year after Nast’s illustration appeared.
5. NEWSPAPERS Accustomed To Respond To Them.
Prior to the Post Office Department changed its rules allowing the making of Santa letters, local newspapers encouraged children to mail letters directly to them directly. In 1901, the Monroe City Democrat in Monroe City, Missouri, offered “two premiums” for the best letter. In 1922, the Daily Ardmoreite, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, offered prizes to the three best letters. The winning missives were published, often with the children’s addresses and personal information included. This practice shifted since the post office took greater control over the processing of Santa letters.
6. CHARITY GROUPS FOUGHT THEM.
Once the Post Office Department changed the principles on answering Santa’s letters, many established charities protested, complaining that the requirements of the youngsters writing the letters could stop being verified, and therefore it was actually a generally inefficient way to provide resources for the poor. An average complaint originated from the Charity Organization Society, whose representative wrote for the Postmaster General, “I beg to request your consideration of your unwholesome publicity accorded to ‘Santa Claus letters’ in this particular and also other cities at Christmas time just last year.” Such pleas eventually lost to the public’s sentimentality, because the Postmaster General determined answering the letters would “assist in prolonging [children’s] youthful belief in Santa Claus.”
7. KIDS DON’T ALWAYS ADDRESS Those To THE NORTH POLE.
While many children sending letters today direct these to the North Pole, for the first few decades of Santa letters it was just one of many potential destinations. Other areas where children imagined St. Nick based his operations included Iceland, Ice Street, Cloudville, or “Behind the Moon.” Exceptions can nevertheless be found today. While many U.S. letters addressed to “Santa Claus” end up with the local post office for handling as part of the Operation Santa program, when the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (a true city name) they will likely go to those cities’ post offices, where they get yourself a special response from local letter-answering campaigns. Kids in England can address letters to “Santa’s Grotto” in Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ. Canadian children can just write “North Pole” and add the postmark H0H 0H0 to be sure the big man gets their notes.
8. NOT EVERYONE ANSWERING THE LETTERS IS SQUEAKY-CLEAN.
While a lot of the people and organizations who took on the project of answering Santa letters are upstanding, happy folks, a number of the more prominent efforts to answer Santa’s mail experienced sad endings. In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Phillips played “Miss Santa Claus” towards the city’s poor in early 1900s, but soon after losing the right to answer Santa’s mail (because of a change in post office policy), she killed herself by inhaling gas fumes. Quite a while later, John Duval Gluck took over answering The Big Apple City’s Santa letters, underneath the organized efforts of your Santa Claus Association. But after 15 years as well as a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was discovered to have been using the group for his enrichment, and the group lost the ability to dexspky60 Santa’s mail. Recently, a New York postal worker pled guilty this October to stealing from Santa: while using USPS’s Operation Santa Claus to obtain generous New Yorkers to send out her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM Inside A DATABASE.
In an effort to formalize the answering of Santa letters, in 2006 the Usa Postal Service established national policy guidelines for Operation Santa, use up all your individual post offices through the entire country. The rules required those wanting to answer letters to appear face-to-face and offer photo ID. 36 months later, USPS added the rule that every children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they check out potential donors, replaced by a number instead. The whole thing is saved in a Microsoft Access database that just the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA Has A EMAIL ADDRESS.
Always one to evolve together with the times, Santa now answers email. Kids can reach him through a variety of outlets, for example Letters to Santa, Email Santa, and Elf HQ. Macy’s encourages kids to email St. Nick as part of its annual “Believe” campaign (children also can go the previous-fashioned route and drop a letter on the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), and also the folks behind the Elf on the Shelf empire offer their own connection to St. Nick.