Each and every year 1000s of children write letter from santa to child to request the presents they would like to receive from the fabled North Pole resident, and in the United States those letters are usually dropped in a real mailbox. But exactly how did that tradition start?
A few of the earliest Christmas correspondence wasn’t actually written to Santa, but rather from him. In the first 50 % of the nineteenth century, Santa Claus was a greater portion of a disciplinary figure compared to jolly old fellow who sorts “naughty” from “nice” nowadays. Stories of Saint Nicholas were meant to encourage children to behave, plus some parents even wrote letters “from” Santa Claus to their children discussing their conduct on the previous year, mischievous or obedient, per Smithsonian.
The American image of Santa Claus developed through the entire 1800s, through the 1823 publication from the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas”-now known by its first line, “’Twas the night before Christmas”-to cartoonist Thomas Nast’s Christmas illustrations from the widely read Harper’s Weekly. Nast’s drawings of Santa, which first appeared in Harper’s through the Civil War, helped create the visual references for Santa Claus that 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 inside the Christmas workflow.
In 1871 Nast drew Santa Claus at his desk reading his mail and sorting it into two piles. 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 created the first known image of someone while using United states mail system to create to Santa Claus. In this 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 used for letters to Santa. On Boxing Day 1874, for instance, the latest York Times included a specific thing about letters “deposited from the Richmond Post Office, evidently written by children, plainly indicated that they, anticipating the annual visit of Santa Claus, wished to remind him of what they most desired.” The Days quoted a number of letters: one requested “a big wagon-not huge-four wheels, two packs pop-crackers, a mom Hubbard book.”
In the beginning, the Usa Postal Service would consider letters addressed to Santa Claus undeliverable, either returning them to their senders or sending these people to the Dead Letter Office. Across the turn of your 20th century, however, philanthropists and charities expressed curiosity about fulfilling Santa’s role for poor children who sent him letters. “The Post Office Department fails to have confidence in Santa Claus. Officially the dispenser of Christmas cheer for little folks can be a myth,” the days wrote in 1906. “The Christmas season has no charm for that prosaic employees from the Dead Letter Office. It indicates only lots of extra work and bother for them.” This content proceeded to deplore the unsympathetic post office and “red-tape-bound officialdom” for their absence of imagination to try to honor the children’s requests.
The following year, the Postmaster General allowed his employees to distribute the letters, nevertheless the charitable people and organizations to whom these folks were given found themselves up against 98dexnpky task of deciding if the children were really looking for their assistance. The resulting complaints meant the Postmaster General did not renew the allowance these year.
His successor wrote a purchase order in 1911 that most letters “addressed plainly and unmistakably to ‘Santa Claus’” might be transported to “responsible institutions or individuals” to use for “philanthropic purposes.” This time permission was renewed and also in 1913 made permanent. Tonight Show host Johnny Carson read out letters from needy children during December shows from the 1960s, and helps to popularize the program. In 1989, Santa got his Local Zip Code.