‘Tis the season for thousands of kids to sit down and write their annual letters to the North Pole’s most famous resident. While sending a letter to Santa Claus may appear like a pretty straightforward process, it’s possessed a colorful-and at times controversial-history. Allow me to share 10 facts and historical tidbits to assist you appreciate what it takes for St. Nick to manage his mail.
1. SANTA Accustomed To SEND LETTERS, NOT RECEIVE THEM.
Santa letters originated as missives children received, as an alternative to sent, with parents utilizing 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 his or her actions over the previous year (“I am sorry I sometimes hear you might be not so kind to the little brother because i wish you have been,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851). This practice shifted as gifts took on the more central role in the holiday, and the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. But some parents continued to write down their kids in Santa’s voice. By far the most impressive of those might be J.R.R. Tolkien, who every Christmas, for nearly twenty five years, left his children elaborately illustrated updates on Father Christmas and his awesome life in the North Pole-loaded with red gnomes, snow elves, and his 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 a remedy to get santa claus letter with their destination, children developed some creative ways to get their messages where they needed to go. Kids from the U.S. would leave them by the fireplace, where they were thought to become smoke and go up to Santa. Scottish children would speed up the 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 his or her letters drifted in to the sky.
3. It Was Once ILLEGAL TO ANSWER THEM.
Kids had one other good reason to never send their letters with the mail: Santa couldn’t answer them. Santa’s mail used to visit the Dead Letter Office, in addition to any other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though lots of people accessible to answer Santa’s letters, they were technically prohibited 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, as soon as the Postmaster General created a permanent exception on the rules, allowing approved individuals and organizations to answer Santa’s mail. To this day, such letters really need to be made out explicitly to “Santa Claus” when the post office is headed to allow 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 Buzz OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If one work might be credited with helping kickstart practicing sending letters to Santa Claus, it’s Thomas Nast’s illustration published inside the December 1871 issue of Harper’s Weekly. The graphic 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 awesome Santa illustrations had grown in to a beloved tradition since he first drew the figure for that magazine’s cover in 1863. Reports of Santa letters ending up at local post offices shot within the year after Nast’s illustration appeared.
5. NEWSPAPERS Employed To Respond To Them.
Just before the Post Office Department changed its rules allowing the production of Santa letters, local newspapers encouraged children to mail letters in their mind directly. In 1901, the Monroe City Democrat in Monroe City, Missouri, offered “two premiums” on the best letter. In 1922, the Daily Ardmoreite, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, offered prizes to the three best letters. The winning missives were published, often using the children’s addresses and private 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 guidelines on answering Santa’s letters, many established charities protested, complaining that the requirements of the youngsters writing the letters could not verified, and that it absolutely was a generally inefficient approach to provide resources to the poor. A normal complaint came from the Charity Organization Society, whose representative wrote to the Postmaster General, “I beg to request your consideration of the unwholesome publicity accorded to ‘Santa Claus letters’ within this as well as other cities at Christmas time just last year.” Such pleas eventually lost out 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.
Some children sending letters today direct these to the North Pole, for the first decades of Santa letters this is one amongst many potential destinations. Other locations where children imagined St. Nick based his operations included Iceland, Ice Street, Cloudville, or “Behind the Moon.” Exceptions can nonetheless be found today. While many United states letters addressed to “Santa Claus” wind up in the local post office for handling in the Operation Santa program, in case the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (an actual city name) they are going to 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 Everybody 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, several of the more prominent efforts to reply to Santa’s mail experienced sad endings. In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Phillips played “Miss Santa Claus” to the city’s poor in the early 1900s, but shortly after losing the right to answer Santa’s mail (because of a alteration of post office policy), she killed herself by inhaling gas fumes. Many years later, John Duval Gluck took over answering The Big Apple City’s Santa letters, under the organized efforts from the Santa Claus Association. But after 20 years plus a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was discovered to have been using the business for his own enrichment, as well as the group lost the legal right to dexspky60 Santa’s mail. Recently, a New York City postal worker pled guilty this October to stealing from Santa: utilizing the USPS’s Operation Santa Claus to obtain generous New Yorkers to transmit her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM Inside A DATABASE.
In an effort to formalize the answering of Santa letters, in 2006 the U.S. Postal Service established national policy guidelines for Operation Santa, run out of individual post offices during the entire country. The rules required those wanting to answer letters to seem personally and provide photo ID. Three years later, USPS added the rule that most children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they go to potential donors, replaced by a number instead. The whole thing is kept in a Microsoft Access database to which merely the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA Posseses An E-mail Address.
Always one to evolve with all the times, Santa now answers email. Kids can reach him through several outlets, like Letters to Santa, Email Santa, and Elf HQ. Macy’s encourages kids to email St. Nick as part of its annual “Believe” campaign (children can also go the existing-fashioned route and drop a letter in the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), as well as the folks behind the Elf in stock empire offer their own link with St. Nick.