The much-awaited Christmas season is just snooping around the corner. With malls and stores ready to hang up their festive lights to themed products in stock for the season from clothing outlets to bookstores, Christmas is indeed in the air. Children looking forward to the holidays as a chance to receive a special gift from the enigmatic Santa Claus flock to their desks to write about their day and to make sure that they’re on ‘Santa’s List’. This tradition has had a long and touching story that dates way back to 1874, showing that Santa’s letters have long been a staple of the spirit of Christmas.
Letters from Santa
Contrary to current traditions, messages were not written to Santa back in the day. Letters were received from him. During the earlier half of the 19th Century, Father Christmas wasn’t just a jolly symbol of the Joy that Christmas brings by leaving gifts and toys to young children around the globe. Santa had much more focus on sorting who was ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ as he served as a way to discipline children on their behaviour.
Parents used the stories of Saint Nicholas to encourage their children to be morally right and to behave their best through writing letters ‘from the North Pole’. These letters served as a sort of ‘conduct card’ received by kids who believed that the all-seeing Santa was taking note of their best throughout the year.
The perseverance of a child’s heart
Through a strange stroke of similar events, children started writing to ‘Santa Claus’ from different parts of the world. In the U.S. alone, children writing letters to Santa prompted the mailing system back in the 1870s to receive hundreds of letters charmingly written by kids with whatever writing tool they could use at the time. These innocent letters were seen as a great nuisance for the U.S. Postal Service, claiming that not only were the messages undeliverable to the North Pole but that they would also have to painstakingly return all the correspondence to the senders for failing to comply with the letter format.
Through a change of heart, however, the postal service renewed their view on the Santa-writing craze in 1907 when they permitted charitable organisations access to these letters. Through an official code written in 1911, all letters written to Santa can help be answered by charity organisations willing to spread the gift of giving. From writing back to offering monetary assistance or even granting the children’s wishes, philanthropic institutions use the guise of Santa to spread joy to the world.
Continuing the tradition
Since claim over the letters written to Santa is for the public, numerous charity organisations and letter writing services have offered the assistance of writing ‘As Santa’ across the globe. With these services available in different countries, with the UK having its own through http://www.laplandletters.co.uk, the great charity that the Santa letter writing movement has done continues to be an outstanding symbol of the Christmas Spirit and the genuine compassion that exists within us all.