‘Tis the season for hundreds and hundreds of kids to sit down and write their annual letters on the North Pole’s most famous resident. While sending a letter to Santa Claus might appear like a pretty straightforward process, it’s possessed a colorful-and at times controversial-history. Listed below are 10 facts and historical tidbits to assist you to appreciate what must be done for St. Nick to control his mail.
1. SANTA Accustomed 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 their behavior. For example, Fanny Longfellow (wife of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) wrote letters to her children every season, weighing in on their own actions across the previous year (“I am sorry I sometimes hear you might be not so kind in your little brother because i wish you have been,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851). This practice shifted as gifts took with a more central role in the holiday, and also the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. However, many parents continued to create their kids in Santa’s voice. One of the most impressive of those may be J.R.R. Tolkien, who every Christmas, for up to 25 years, left his children elaborately illustrated updates on Father Christmas and his awesome life inside the North Pole-full of red gnomes, snow elves, and his chief assistant, the North Polar bear.
2. ORIGINALLY, KIDS DIDN’T MAIL THEM.
Just before the Post Office Department (as the USPS was known until 1971) presented a solution to get santa claus letters on their destination, children came up with some creative ways to get their messages where they needed to go. Kids in the U.S. would leave them through the fireplace, where these folks were believed to develop into smoke and rise to Santa. Scottish children would increase this process by sticking their heads in 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 USED TO BE ILLEGAL To Respond To THEM.
Kids had another good reason to not send their letters from the mail: Santa couldn’t respond to them. Santa’s mail used to attend the Dead Letter Office, as well as some other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though many individuals offered to answer Santa’s letters, these were technically prohibited to, since opening someone else’s letters, even Dead Letters, was up against the law. (Some postmasters, however, violated the principles.) Things changed in 1913, when the Postmaster General produced a permanent exception on the rules, allowing approved individuals and organizations to answer Santa’s mail. Even today, such letters really need to be made out explicitly to “Santa Claus” in the event the post office is certainly going to allow them to be answered. This way, families actually named “Kringle” or “Nicholas” don’t accidently their very own mail shipped to the wrong place.
4. A CARTOON HELPED SPREAD THE POPULARITY OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If a person work can be credited with helping kickstart the concept of sending letters to Santa Claus, it’s Thomas Nast’s illustration published within the December 1871 issue of Harper’s Weekly. The photo 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 of your era, and his Santa illustrations had grown right into a beloved tradition since he first drew the figure for that magazine’s cover in 1863. Reports of Santa letters finding yourself at local post offices shot up the year after Nast’s illustration appeared.
5. NEWSPAPERS Employed To ANSWER THEM.
Prior to the Post Office Department changed its rules allowing the production of Santa letters, local newspapers encouraged children to mail letters for them directly. In 1901, the Monroe City Democrat in Monroe City, Missouri, offered “two premiums” to the best letter. In 1922, the Daily Ardmoreite, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, offered prizes on the three best letters. The winning missives were published, often with the children’s addresses and personal information included. This practice shifted as the post office took greater power over the processing of Santa letters.
6. CHARITY GROUPS FOUGHT THEM.
As soon as the Post Office Department changed the guidelines on answering Santa’s letters, many established charities protested, complaining that the needs of the kids writing the letters could not be verified, and that it absolutely was a generally inefficient approach to provide resources to the poor. A standard complaint originated the Charity Organization Society, whose representative wrote on the Postmaster General, “I beg to request your consideration from the unwholesome publicity accorded to ‘Santa Claus letters’ with this and also other cities at Christmas time just last year.” Such pleas eventually lost to the public’s sentimentality, as being the Postmaster General determined answering the letters would “assist in prolonging [children’s] youthful belief in Santa Claus.”
7. KIDS DON’T ALWAYS ADDRESS These People To THE NORTH POLE.
While most children sending letters today direct them to the North Pole, for the initial few decades of Santa letters this was 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 still be found today. While most Usa letters addressed to “Santa Claus” wind up in the local post office for handling within the Operation Santa program, when the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (a true city name) they will likely head to those cities’ post offices, where they get 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 lots of the people and organizations who took about the project of answering Santa letters are upstanding, happy folks, some of the more prominent efforts to respond to Santa’s mail have gotten sad endings. In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Phillips played “Miss Santa Claus” towards the city’s poor in the early 1900s, but soon after losing the authority to answer Santa’s mail (as a result of improvement in post office policy), she killed herself by inhaling gas fumes. A few years later, John Duval Gluck took over answering Ny City’s Santa letters, beneath the organized efforts in the Santa Claus Association. But after 20 years and a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was found to have used the business for his enrichment, and the group lost the legal right to dexspky60 Santa’s mail. More recently, a New York postal worker pled guilty this October to stealing from Santa: utilizing the USPS’s Operation Santa Claus to get generous New Yorkers to send her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM Inside A DATABASE.
In an attempt to formalize the answering of Santa letters, in 2006 the U.S. Postal Service established national policy guidelines for Operation Santa, exhaust your individual post offices through the country. The guidelines required those trying to answer letters to show up directly and provide photo ID. Three years later, USPS added the rule that all children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they visit potential donors, replaced by way of a number instead. The whole thing is saved in a Microsoft Access database to which simply the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA Posseses An EMAIL ADDRESS.
Always a person to evolve using the times, Santa now answers email. Kids can reach him through several outlets, for example Letters to Santa, Email Santa, and Elf HQ. Macy’s encourages kids to email St. Nick as an element of its annual “Believe” campaign (children can also go the existing-fashioned route and drop a letter with the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), and also the folks behind the Elf on the Shelf empire offer their own personal connection to St. Nick.