‘Tis the season for tens of thousands of kids to take a seat and write their annual letters on the North Pole’s most well-known resident. While sending a letter to Santa Claus may seem like a pretty straightforward process, it’s possessed a colorful-and at times controversial-history. Here are 10 facts and historical tidbits to assist you appreciate what must be done for St. Nick to manage his mail.
1. SANTA Utilized 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 his or her actions across the previous year (“I am sorry I sometimes hear you will be not kind to the little brother because i wish you had been,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851). This practice shifted as gifts took over a more central role in the holiday, and the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. However, some parents continued to publish their kids in Santa’s voice. One of the most impressive of those can 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 within the North Pole-full of red gnomes, snow elves, and his chief assistant, the North Polar bear.
2. ORIGINALLY, KIDS DIDN’T MAIL THEM.
Prior to the Post Office Department (because the USPS was known until 1971) presented an answer for getting santa claus letters for their destination, children put together some creative techniques for getting their messages where they necessary to go. Kids inside the United states would leave them through the fireplace, where these were thought to turn into smoke and go up to Santa. Scottish children would increase the procedure by sticking their heads within the chimney and crying out their Christmas wishes. In Latin America, kids attached their missives to balloons, watching since their letters drifted to the sky.
3. It Once Was ILLEGAL To Reply To THEM.
Kids had another great reason to never send their letters with the mail: Santa couldn’t answer them. Santa’s mail used to go to the Dead Letter Office, as well as some other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though many people accessible to answer Santa’s letters, these folks were technically banned 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 for the rules, allowing approved individuals and organizations to reply to Santa’s mail. To this day, such letters really need to be made out explicitly to “Santa Claus” if the post office is certainly going to allow them to be answered. This way, families actually named “Kringle” or “Nicholas” don’t accidently get their mail shipped towards the wrong place.
4. A CARTOON HELPED SPREAD The Buzz OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If an individual work can be credited with helping kickstart the practice of sending letters to Santa Claus, it’s Thomas Nast’s illustration published in 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 the era, and his Santa illustrations had grown in a beloved tradition since he first drew the figure for your magazine’s cover in 1863. Reports of Santa letters finding yourself at local post offices shot in the year after Nast’s illustration appeared.
5. NEWSPAPERS Accustomed To Respond To Them.
Before the Post Office Department changed its rules to enable the production 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” for the best letter. In 1922, the Daily Ardmoreite, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, offered prizes for the three best letters. The winning missives were published, often with all the children’s addresses and personal information included. This practice shifted since 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 youngsters writing the letters could not really verified, and that it had been a generally inefficient way to provide resources towards the poor. A normal complaint originated 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’ in this particular and other cities at Christmas time just last year.” Such pleas eventually lost over to the public’s sentimentality, as 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.
Some children sending letters today direct these people to the North Pole, for the initial few decades of Santa letters it was just one of many potential destinations. Other locations where children imagined St. Nick based his operations included Iceland, Ice Street, Cloudville, or “Behind the Moon.” Exceptions can nevertheless be found today. Some U.S. letters addressed to “Santa Claus” wind up in the local post office for handling within the Operation Santa program, in case the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (a genuine city name) they will likely check out 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 many of the people and organizations who took on the project of answering Santa letters are upstanding, happy folks, several of the more prominent efforts to respond to Santa’s mail have had sad endings. In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Phillips played “Miss Santa Claus” to the city’s poor in the early 1900s, but shortly after losing the ability to answer Santa’s mail (caused by a alternation 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, under the organized efforts from the Santa Claus Association. But after 15 years along with a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was discovered to have been using the organization for his enrichment, as well as 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: using the USPS’s Operation Santa Claus to get generous New Yorkers to send her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM IN A DATABASE.
In an attempt to formalize the answering of Santa letters, in 2006 the United states Postal Service established national policy guidelines for Operation Santa, use up all your individual post offices during the entire country. The guidelines required those planning to answer letters to seem face-to-face and provide photo ID. Three years later, USPS added the rule that most children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they check out potential donors, replaced with a number instead. Everything is held in a Microsoft Access database which only the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA Posseses An E-mail Address.
Always a person to evolve with all the times, Santa now answers email. Kids can reach him through a number of outlets, including 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 old-fashioned route and drop a letter in the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), along with the folks behind the Elf on the Shelf empire offer their particular connection to St. Nick.