‘Tis the season for hundreds and hundreds of kids to sit down and write their annual letters to the North Pole’s most well-known resident. While sending a letter to Santa Claus may appear similar to a pretty straightforward process, it’s possessed a colorful-and also at times controversial-history. Listed below are 10 facts and historical tidbits that will help you appreciate what must be done for St. Nick to control his mail.
1. SANTA Employed 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 his or her behavior. For 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 happen to be less than kind to your little brother because i wish you were,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851). This practice shifted as gifts took with a more central role within the holiday, along with the letters morphed into Christmas wish lists. But some parents continued to create their kids in Santa’s voice. The most impressive of the may be J.R.R. Tolkien, who every Christmas, for almost twenty-five years, left his children elaborately illustrated updates on Father Christmas and his awesome life from the North Pole-loaded with red gnomes, snow elves, and his awesome 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 solution in order to get personalized santa letters on their destination, children created some creative methods for getting their messages where they found it necessary to go. Kids within the United states would leave them by the fireplace, where they were believed to turn into smoke and go up to Santa. Scottish children would increase the process by sticking their heads up 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 the sky.
3. IT USED TO BE ILLEGAL To Reply To THEM.
Kids had another good reason not to send their letters throughout the mail: Santa couldn’t answer them. Santa’s mail used to see the Dead Letter Office, along with almost every other letters addressed to mythical or undeliverable addresses. Though a lot of people provided to answer Santa’s letters, they 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, as soon as the Postmaster General made a permanent exception to 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 certainly going to enable them to be answered. That way, families actually named “Kringle” or “Nicholas” don’t accidently get their mail shipped for the wrong place.
4. A CARTOON HELPED SPREAD The Recognition OF WRITING TO SANTA.
If an individual work might be credited with helping kickstart the practice of sending letters to Santa Claus, it’s Thomas Nast’s illustration published from the December 1871 issue of Harper’s Weekly. The picture 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 of the era, and his awesome Santa illustrations had grown right into a beloved tradition since he first drew the figure to the magazine’s cover in 1863. Reports of Santa letters winding up at local post offices shot in the year after Nast’s illustration appeared.
5. NEWSPAPERS Employed To ANSWER THEM.
Prior to the Post Office Department changed its rules to enable the discharge 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 the children’s addresses and personal information included. This practice shifted as the post office took greater power over the processing of Santa letters.
6. CHARITY GROUPS FOUGHT THEM.
If 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 stop being verified, and that it was a generally inefficient approach to provide resources on the poor. An average complaint originated from the Charity Organization Society, whose representative wrote towards the Postmaster General, “I beg to request your consideration in the unwholesome publicity accorded to ‘Santa Claus letters’ within this along with other cities at Christmas time just last year.” Such pleas eventually lost 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.
While most children sending letters today direct these to the North Pole, for the initial few decades of Santa letters this became one among many potential destinations. Other areas 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 Usa letters addressed to “Santa Claus” turn out on the local post office for handling within the Operation Santa program, when the notes are addressed to Anchorage, Alaska, or Santa Claus, Indiana (a true city name) they will go to 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 guarantee the big man gets their notes.
8. NOT EVERYONE 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 resolve Santa’s mail have gotten 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 (caused by a improvement in post office policy), she killed herself by inhaling gas fumes. A few years later, John Duval Gluck took over answering New York City’s Santa letters, within the organized efforts in the Santa Claus Association. But after 10 years plus a quarter-million letters answered, Gluck was found to have been using the business for his own enrichment, and the group lost the ability to dexspky60 Santa’s mail. Recently, a New York postal worker pled guilty this October to stealing from Santa: making use of the USPS’s Operation Santa Claus to acquire generous New Yorkers to send out her gifts.
9. THE POST OFFICE TRACKS THEM Within A DATABASE.
In an effort to formalize the answering of Santa letters, in 2006 the Usa Postal Service established national policy guidelines for Operation Santa, run out of individual post offices through the entire country. The guidelines required those seeking to answer letters to appear personally and offer photo ID. 3 years later, USPS added the rule that most children’s addresses be redacted from letters before they head to potential donors, replaced by a number instead. Everything is held in a Microsoft Access database to which just the post office’s team of “elves” has access.
10. SANTA Comes With An E-mail 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 included in its annual “Believe” campaign (children also can go the existing-fashioned route and drop a letter at the red mailbox at their nearest Macy’s store), and also the folks behind the Elf on the Shelf empire offer their particular connection to St. Nick.