Each and every year 1000s of children write santa letter to request the presents they wish to receive in the fabled North Pole resident, and in the usa those letters tend to be dropped inside a real mailbox. But just how did that tradition start?
Several of the earliest Christmas correspondence wasn’t actually written to Santa, but instead from him. Inside the first 50 % of the nineteenth century, Santa Claus was much more of a disciplinary figure in comparison to the jolly old fellow who sorts “naughty” from “nice” currently. Stories of Saint Nicholas were supposed to encourage children to behave, and a few parents even wrote letters “from” Santa Claus with their children discussing their conduct across the previous year, mischievous or obedient, per Smithsonian.
The American picture of Santa Claus developed throughout the 1800s, from your 1823 publication from the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas”-now known by its first line, “’Twas the night time before Christmas”-to cartoonist Thomas Nast’s Christmas illustrations inside the widely read Harper’s Weekly. Nast’s drawings of Santa, which first appeared in Harper’s in the Civil War, helped create the visual references for Santa Claus which are still familiar today, together with a red suit and white beard. Nast’s drawings also captured the earliest events of the postal service’s involvement in the Christmas workflow.
In 1871 Nast drew Santa Claus at his desk reading his mail and sorting it into two piles. Normally the one labeled “letters from naughty children’s parents” reaches well above his head, whereas “letters from good children’s parents” is a far smaller stack. Quite a while later, in 1879, Nast come up with first known picture of someone using the U.S. mail system to publish to Santa Claus. In this particular Harper’s illustration, a youthful figure puts a letter addressed to “St. Claus North Pole” within a mailbox with a snowy evening.
By that point, however, the mail system was already being used for letters to Santa. On Boxing Day 1874, by way of example, the New York Times included an item about letters “deposited within the Richmond Post Office, evidently created by children, plainly indicated that they, anticipating the annual visit of Santa Claus, wished to remind him of the items they most desired.” The Days quoted a couple of letters: one requested “a big wagon-less than huge-four wheels, two packs pop-crackers, a Mother Hubbard book.”
Initially, the Usa Postal Service would consider letters addressed to Santa Claus undeliverable, either returning these to their senders or sending them to the Dead Letter Office. Across the turn in the twentieth century, however, philanthropists and charities expressed curiosity about fulfilling Santa’s role for poor children who sent him letters. “The Post Office Department will not believe in Santa Claus. Officially the dispenser of Christmas cheer for little folks is really a myth,” the days wrote in 1906. “The Christmas season has no charm for your prosaic employees of the Dead Letter Office. This means only a lot of work and bother to them.” The article proceeded to deplore the unsympathetic post office and “red-tape-bound officialdom” with regard to their insufficient imagination to find a way to honor the children’s requests.
The subsequent year, the Postmaster General allowed his employees to distribute the letters, however the charitable people and organizations to whom these were given found themselves up against 98dexnpky task of deciding if the children were really in need of their assistance. The resulting complaints meant the Postmaster General did not renew the allowance the subsequent year.
His successor wrote a purchase order in 1911 that all letters “addressed plainly and unmistakably to ‘Santa Claus’” could be transported to “responsible institutions or individuals” for “philanthropic purposes.” Now permission was renewed and also in 1913 made permanent. Tonight Show host Johnny Carson read out letters from needy children during December shows inside the 1960s, helping to popularize the program. In 1989, Santa got his own Area Code.