‘Tis the season for thousands of kids to sit down and write their annual letters on the North Pole’s most well-known resident. While sending a letter to Santa Claus might seem such as a pretty straightforward process, it’s possessed a colorful-as well as times controversial-history. Allow me to share 10 facts and historical tidbits to help you appreciate what it requires for St. Nick to manage his mail.
1. SANTA Accustomed To SEND LETTERS, NOT RECEIVE THEM.
Santa letters originated as missives children received, rather than sent, with parents utilizing them as tools to counsel kids on his or her behavior. By way of example, Fanny Longfellow (wife of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) wrote letters to her children every season, weighing in on their actions within the previous year (“I am sorry I sometimes hear you will be not so kind in your little brother when i wish you have been,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851). This practice shifted as gifts took on a more central role in the holiday, as well as the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. However some parents continued to publish their kids in Santa’s voice. The most impressive of the may 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 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.
Prior to the Post Office Department (as the USPS was known until 1971) presented an answer in order to get personalized letters from santa for their destination, children developed some creative ways to get their messages where they found it necessary to go. Kids in the Usa would leave them by the fireplace, where these folks were considered to turn into smoke and rise to Santa. Scottish children would speed up the 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 another great reason never to send their letters from the mail: Santa couldn’t respond to them. Santa’s mail used to visit the Dead Letter Office, along with every other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though a lot of people offered to answer Santa’s letters, these people were technically unacceptable to, since opening someone else’s letters, even Dead Letters, was from the law. (Some postmasters, however, violated the principles.) Things changed in 1913, when the Postmaster General crafted a permanent exception for the rules, allowing approved individuals and organizations to resolve Santa’s mail. Even today, such letters must be made out explicitly to “Santa Claus” if the post office is headed to allow them to be answered. That way, families actually named “Kringle” or “Nicholas” don’t accidently have their own mail shipped towards the wrong place.
4. A CARTOON HELPED SPREAD THE POPULARITY OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If one work could be credited with helping kickstart the concept of sending letters to Santa Claus, it’s Thomas Nast’s illustration published from 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 at one of the highest-circulation publications from the era, with his fantastic 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 the year after Nast’s illustration appeared.
5. NEWSPAPERS Utilized To ANSWER THEM.
Prior to the Post Office Department changed its rules to allow the making 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” 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 together with the children’s addresses and personal information included. This practice shifted as being 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 kids writing the letters could not verified, and therefore it absolutely was a generally inefficient method to provide resources towards the poor. A typical complaint came 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 as well as other cities at Christmas time 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 These People To THE NORTH POLE.
Some children sending letters today direct those to the North Pole, for the first few decades of Santa letters this became 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 still be found today. While many U.S. letters addressed to “Santa Claus” wind up in the local post office for handling included in the Operation Santa program, in the event the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (a genuine city name) they will check out those cities’ post offices, where they have 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 ensure the big man gets their notes.
8. Not Every Person ANSWERING THE LETTERS IS SQUEAKY-CLEAN.
While most of the people and organizations who took around the project of answering Santa letters are upstanding, happy folks, a number of the more prominent efforts to respond to Santa’s mail have had 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 alteration of post office policy), she killed herself by inhaling gas fumes. A couple of years later, John Duval Gluck took over answering New York City City’s Santa letters, beneath the organized efforts in the Santa Claus Association. But after 15 years along with a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was discovered to have been using the group for his enrichment, and also the group lost the authority to dexspky60 Santa’s mail. More recently, a New York City postal worker pled guilty this October to stealing from Santa: while using USPS’s Operation Santa Claus to obtain generous New Yorkers to send her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM Within A DATABASE.
In order to formalize the answering of Santa letters, in 2006 the United states Postal Service established national policy guidelines for Operation Santa, exhaust your individual post offices during the entire country. The rules required those trying to answer letters to seem personally and offer photo ID. 3 years later, USPS added the rule that children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they go to potential donors, replaced with a number instead. The whole thing is stored in a Microsoft Access database in which simply the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA Comes With An EMAIL ADDRESS.
Always anyone 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 may also go that old-fashioned route and drop a letter at the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), and the folks behind the Elf on the Shelf empire offer their own link with St. Nick.