‘Tis the season for hundreds and hundreds of kids to sit down and write their annual letters towards the North Pole’s most famous resident. While sending a letter to Santa Claus may appear similar to a pretty straightforward process, it’s possessed a colorful-as well as at times controversial-history. Allow me to share 10 facts and historical tidbits that will help you appreciate what it takes for St. Nick to manage his mail.
1. SANTA Employed To SEND LETTERS, NOT RECEIVE THEM.
Santa letters originated as missives children received, instead of sent, with parents making use of them as tools to counsel kids on the behavior. As an example, Fanny Longfellow (wife of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) wrote letters to her children every season, weighing in on their own actions over the previous year (“I am sorry I sometimes hear you are not so kind to your little brother because i wish that you were,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851). This practice shifted as gifts took over a more central role inside the holiday, along with the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. However, some parents continued to write their kids in Santa’s voice. By far the most impressive of these may be J.R.R. Tolkien, who every Christmas, for pretty much twenty five years, left his children elaborately illustrated updates on Father Christmas and his awesome life within the North Pole-full of red gnomes, snow elves, and his awesome chief assistant, the North Polar bear.
2. ORIGINALLY, KIDS DIDN’T MAIL THEM.
Before the Post Office Department (because the USPS was known until 1971) presented an alternative for getting letters from santa claus for their destination, children developed some creative techniques for getting their messages where they required to go. Kids from the U.S. would leave them through the fireplace, where they were thought to develop into smoke and go up to Santa. Scottish children would increase the procedure by sticking their heads the chimney and crying out their Christmas wishes. In Latin America, kids attached their missives to balloons, watching his or her letters drifted into the sky.
3. It Was Once ILLEGAL To Resolve THEM.
Kids had one other good reason to not send their letters through the mail: Santa couldn’t answer them. Santa’s mail used to see the Dead Letter Office, together with every other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though many people provided to answer Santa’s letters, these were technically banned to, since opening someone else’s letters, even Dead Letters, was up against the law. (Some postmasters, however, violated the guidelines.) Things changed in 1913, when the Postmaster General created a permanent exception to the rules, allowing approved individuals and organizations to respond to Santa’s mail. To this day, such letters have to be made out explicitly to “Santa Claus” in case the post office is headed to enable them to be answered. Like that, families actually named “Kringle” or “Nicholas” don’t accidently their very own mail shipped for the wrong place.
4. A CARTOON HELPED SPREAD The Excitement OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If an individual work can be credited with helping kickstart practicing 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 to a beloved tradition since he first drew the figure for your magazine’s cover in 1863. Reports of Santa letters winding up at local post offices shot up the year after Nast’s illustration appeared.
5. NEWSPAPERS Employed To ANSWER THEM.
Ahead of the Post Office Department changed its rules to allow the discharge of Santa letters, local newspapers encouraged children to mail letters to them directly. In 1901, the Monroe City Democrat in Monroe City, Missouri, offered “two premiums” towards the best letter. In 1922, the Daily Ardmoreite, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, offered prizes towards the three best letters. The winning missives were published, often with the children’s addresses and private information included. This practice shifted as being the post office took greater control of the processing of Santa letters.
6. CHARITY GROUPS FOUGHT THEM.
If the Post Office Department changed the principles on answering Santa’s letters, many established charities protested, complaining that the requirements the children writing the letters could not really verified, and this it was actually a generally inefficient way to provide resources on the poor. A standard complaint originated from 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’ in this particular and other cities at Christmas time last year.” Such pleas eventually lost out to the public’s sentimentality, since the Postmaster General determined answering the letters would “assist in prolonging [children’s] youthful belief in Santa Claus.”
7. KIDS DON’T ALWAYS ADDRESS THEM TO THE NORTH POLE.
While many children sending letters today direct these people to the North Pole, for the first decades of Santa letters this became one amongst 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. Some Usa letters addressed to “Santa Claus” turn out with the local post office for handling included in the Operation Santa program, when the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (an actual city name) they are going to visit 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 so that the big man gets their notes.
8. Not Everybody ANSWERING THE LETTERS IS SQUEAKY-CLEAN.
While most of the people and organizations who took in the project of answering Santa letters are upstanding, happy folks, a few of the more prominent efforts to reply to Santa’s mail have gotten sad endings. In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Phillips played “Miss Santa Claus” for the city’s poor during the early 1900s, but soon after losing the ability to answer Santa’s mail (because of a alternation in post office policy), she killed herself by inhaling gas fumes. A few years later, John Duval Gluck took over answering New York City’s Santa letters, underneath the organized efforts in the Santa Claus Association. But after 10 years plus a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was discovered to have been using the corporation for their own enrichment, along with the group lost the authority to dexspky60 Santa’s mail. Recently, a New York City postal worker pled guilty this October to stealing from Santa: while using USPS’s Operation Santa Claus to get generous New Yorkers to deliver her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM IN A DATABASE.
To formalize the answering of Santa letters, in 2006 the Usa Postal Service established national policy guidelines for Operation Santa, exhaust individual post offices through the entire country. The rules required those trying to answer letters to seem directly and provide photo ID. 3 years later, USPS added the rule that every children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they go to potential donors, replaced by a number instead. Everything is stored in a Microsoft Access database that just the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA HAS AN EMAIL ADDRESS.
Always a person to evolve with the times, Santa now answers email. Kids can reach him through a variety of outlets, like Letters to Santa, Email Santa, and Elf HQ. Macy’s encourages kids to email St. Nick within its annual “Believe” campaign (children can also go the old-fashioned route and drop a letter with the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), and the folks behind the Elf on the Shelf empire offer their very own link to St. Nick.