Every year thousands of children write letters from santa package to request the presents they would like to receive from your fabled North Pole resident, and in america those letters are usually dropped within a real mailbox. But just how did that tradition start?
A few of the earliest Christmas correspondence wasn’t actually written to Santa, but alternatively from him. From the first 50 % of the nineteenth century, Santa Claus was even more of a disciplinary figure than the jolly old fellow who sorts “naughty” from “nice” today. Stories of Saint Nicholas were intended to encourage children to behave, plus some parents even wrote letters “from” Santa Claus to their children discussing their conduct over the previous year, mischievous or obedient, per Smithsonian.
The American image of Santa Claus developed throughout the 1800s, through the 1823 publication of your poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas”-now known by its first line, “’Twas the night 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 that happen to be still familiar today, such as a red suit and white beard. Nast’s drawings also captured the earliest events of the postal service’s involvement from 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 really a far smaller stack. A couple of years later, in 1879, Nast come up with first known image of someone while using Usa mail system to create to Santa Claus. In this particular Harper’s illustration, a youthful figure puts a letter addressed to “St. Claus North Pole” in the mailbox with a snowy evening.
By that point, however, the mail system was already being utilized for letters to Santa. On Boxing Day 1874, by way of example, the latest York Times included a product about letters “deposited in 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 things they most desired.” The Times quoted a number of letters: one requested “a big wagon-not too very big-four wheels, two packs pop-crackers, a Mother Hubbard book.”
In the beginning, the U.S. Postal Service would consider letters addressed to Santa Claus undeliverable, either returning them to their senders or sending them to the Dead Letter Office. Around the turn of the 20th century, however, philanthropists and charities expressed fascination with fulfilling Santa’s role for poor children who sent him letters. “The Post Office Department will not have faith in Santa Claus. Officially the dispenser of Christmas cheer for little folks is actually a myth,” the Times wrote in 1906. “The Christmas season has no charm for that prosaic employees of the Dead Letter Office. It implies only lots of work and bother on their behalf.” The article proceeded to deplore the unsympathetic post office and “red-tape-bound officialdom” for their insufficient 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 were given found themselves faced with 98dexnpky task of deciding if the children were really requiring their assistance. The resulting complaints meant the Postmaster General did not renew the allowance the following year.
His successor wrote an order in 1911 that every letters “addressed plainly and unmistakably to ‘Santa Claus’” might be sent to “responsible institutions or individuals” for “philanthropic purposes.” This time around permission was renewed and then in 1913 made permanent. Tonight Show host Johnny Carson read out letters from needy children during December shows within the 1960s, and helps to popularize this program. In 1989, Santa got his own ZIP Code.