‘Tis the season for thousands of kids to take a seat and write their annual letters on the North Pole’s most popular resident. While sending a letter to Santa Claus might seem such as a pretty straightforward process, it’s enjoyed a colorful-as well as times controversial-history. Listed here are 10 facts and historical tidbits to help you appreciate what is required for St. Nick to control his mail.
1. SANTA Accustomed To SEND LETTERS, NOT RECEIVE THEM.
Santa letters originated as missives children received, instead of sent, with parents using them as tools to counsel kids on their own behavior. For instance, Fanny Longfellow (wife of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) wrote letters to her children every season, weighing in on the actions on the previous year (“I am sorry I sometimes hear you happen to be less than kind for your little brother as 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 within the holiday, as well as the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. However, many parents continued to write their kids in Santa’s voice. Probably the most impressive of such could 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 within the North Pole-filled with 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 (since the USPS was known until 1971) presented a solution for getting letter from santa claus to their destination, children came up with some creative techniques for getting their messages where they required to go. Kids within the U.S. would leave them by the fireplace, where these folks were thought to turn into smoke and go up to Santa. Scottish children would quicken the method by sticking their heads within the chimney and crying out their Christmas wishes. In Latin America, kids attached their missives to balloons, watching as their letters drifted into the sky.
3. It Was Once ILLEGAL To Respond To THEM.
Kids had one additional reason not to send their letters throughout the mail: Santa couldn’t answer them. Santa’s mail used to attend the Dead Letter Office, together with some other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though a lot of people provided to answer Santa’s letters, these folks were technically prohibited to, since opening someone else’s letters, even Dead Letters, was from the law. (Some postmasters, however, violated the rules.) Things changed in 1913, once the Postmaster General created a permanent exception on the rules, allowing approved individuals and organizations to resolve Santa’s mail. Even today, such letters really need to be made out explicitly to “Santa Claus” in case the post office is headed to allow them to be answered. That 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 Excitement OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If someone work could be credited with helping kickstart the practice 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 at one of the highest-circulation publications from the era, and his awesome Santa illustrations had grown in a beloved tradition since he first drew the figure to the 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 Employed To ANSWER THEM.
Prior to the Post Office Department changed its rules allowing the making 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” towards the best letter. In 1922, the Daily Ardmoreite, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, offered prizes for the three best letters. The winning missives were published, often using the children’s addresses and personal 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 the kids writing the letters could not verified, and therefore it was a generally inefficient method to provide resources to the poor. An average complaint has come from the Charity Organization Society, whose representative wrote on the Postmaster General, “I beg to request your consideration of the unwholesome publicity accorded to ‘Santa Claus letters’ with this and other cities at Christmas time 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 Those To THE NORTH POLE.
While many children sending letters today direct these to the North Pole, for the first few decades of Santa letters it 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 may still be found today. Some U.S. letters addressed to “Santa Claus” turn out on the local post office for handling included in the Operation Santa program, if the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (a real city name) they will head to those cities’ post offices, where they get yourself 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 a lot of the people and organizations who took on the project of answering Santa letters are upstanding, happy folks, some of the more prominent efforts to respond to Santa’s mail experienced sad endings. In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Phillips played “Miss Santa Claus” to the city’s poor during the early 1900s, but shortly after losing the right to answer Santa’s mail (because of a change in post office policy), she killed herself by inhaling gas fumes. Quite a while later, John Duval Gluck took over answering The Big Apple City’s Santa letters, beneath the organized efforts of your Santa Claus Association. But after 15 years plus a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was discovered to have used the group for his very own enrichment, along with 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: utilizing the USPS’s Operation Santa Claus to obtain generous New Yorkers to send out her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM In The 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 through the country. The guidelines required those seeking to answer letters to look face-to-face and offer photo ID. 36 months later, USPS added the rule that children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they check out potential donors, replaced by a number instead. Everything is held in a Microsoft Access database which just the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA Has A Current Email Address.
Always a person to evolve with all the times, Santa now answers email. Kids can reach him through several outlets, including Letters to Santa, Email Santa, and Elf HQ. Macy’s encourages kids to email St. Nick included in its annual “Believe” campaign (children could also go that old-fashioned route and drop a letter on the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), and the folks behind the Elf on the Shelf empire offer their very own connection to St. Nick.