‘Tis the season for hundreds and hundreds 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 appear just like a pretty straightforward process, it’s had a colorful-as well as times controversial-history. Here are 10 facts and historical tidbits that will help you appreciate what is required 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 utilizing them as tools to counsel kids on their behavior. For instance, Fanny Longfellow (wife of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) wrote letters to her children every season, weighing in on their actions across the previous year (“I am sorry I sometimes hear you happen to be not so kind to the little brother while i wish you had been,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851). This practice shifted as gifts took on the more central role from the holiday, as well as the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. However, some parents continued to publish their kids in Santa’s voice. Probably the most impressive of such might be J.R.R. Tolkien, who every Christmas, for almost twenty five years, left his children elaborately illustrated updates on Father Christmas with his fantastic life from the North Pole-filled up with red gnomes, snow elves, and his chief assistant, the North Polar bear.
2. ORIGINALLY, KIDS DIDN’T MAIL THEM.
Ahead of the Post Office Department (as being the USPS was known until 1971) presented an alternative for obtaining personalized santa letters on their destination, children came up with some creative ways to get their messages where they required to go. Kids in the United states would leave them through the fireplace, where they were believed to develop into smoke and go up to Santa. Scottish children would increase the process by sticking their heads the chimney and crying out their Christmas wishes. In Latin America, kids attached their missives to balloons, watching since their letters drifted in to 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, as well as almost every other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though many people offered to answer Santa’s letters, these people were technically not allowed to, since opening someone else’s letters, even Dead Letters, was versus the law. (Some postmasters, however, violated the rules.) Things changed in 1913, when the Postmaster General crafted a permanent exception towards the rules, allowing approved individuals and organizations to reply to Santa’s mail. Even today, such letters really need to be made out explicitly to “Santa Claus” if the post office is certainly going to enable them to be answered. Doing this, families actually named “Kringle” or “Nicholas” don’t accidently have their own mail shipped on the wrong place.
4. A CARTOON HELPED SPREAD The Excitement OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If one work may 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 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 in one of the highest-circulation publications in the era, with his fantastic Santa illustrations had grown into a beloved tradition since he first drew the figure for the magazine’s cover in 1863. Reports of Santa letters finding yourself at local post offices shot up the year after Nast’s illustration appeared.
5. NEWSPAPERS Utilized To Respond To Them.
Ahead of the Post Office Department changed its rules to enable the discharge of Santa letters, local newspapers encouraged children to mail letters directly 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 the children’s addresses and personal information included. This practice shifted as being the post office took greater power over the processing of Santa letters.
6. CHARITY GROUPS FOUGHT THEM.
Once the Post Office Department changed the rules on answering Santa’s letters, many established charities protested, complaining that the requirements the children writing the letters could not really verified, which it was actually a generally inefficient strategy to provide resources to the poor. A standard 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’ with this and other cities at Christmas time last year.” Such pleas eventually lost over to the public’s sentimentality, as being 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 initial decades of Santa letters this was 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 may still be found today. While most Usa letters addressed to “Santa Claus” turn out at the local post office for handling within the Operation Santa program, if the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (a genuine 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 EVERYONE ANSWERING THE LETTERS IS SQUEAKY-CLEAN.
While a lot of the people and organizations who took about the project of answering Santa letters are upstanding, happy folks, some of the more prominent efforts to answer Santa’s mail have had sad endings. In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Phillips played “Miss Santa Claus” to the city’s poor in early 1900s, but shortly after losing the authority to answer Santa’s mail (caused by a change in post office policy), she killed herself by inhaling gas fumes. Many years later, John Duval Gluck took over answering New York City City’s Santa letters, under the organized efforts from the Santa Claus Association. But after fifteen years as well as a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was found to have been using the group for his own enrichment, and the group lost the ability 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 get generous New Yorkers to send out her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM Inside A DATABASE.
To formalize the answering of Santa letters, in 2006 the United states Postal Service established national policy guidelines for Operation Santa, run out of individual post offices during the entire country. The principles required those seeking to answer letters to seem directly and present photo ID. Three years later, USPS added the rule that all children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they check out potential donors, replaced with a number instead. Everything is kept in a Microsoft Access database that only the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA Posseses An EMAIL ADDRESS.
Always someone to evolve with all 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 included in its annual “Believe” campaign (children also can go the old-fashioned route and drop a letter with the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), as well as the folks behind the Elf on the Shelf empire offer their very own link to St. Nick.