Whether known as Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Babbo Natale, Christkind, Père Noël, Santa Claus (“Santa”), Święty Mikołaj or by many other names, this legendary gift-giver in European folklore and hagiography is well known around the world.
Writing a letter to Santa (List do Świętego Mikołaja) is among the numerous traditions surrounding Christmas. Although in 1889, Thomas Nast—the caricaturist credited with the modern portrayal of Santa—presented Santa reading letters from the parents of children in “Santa Claus’s mail,” writing to Santa is as much of a children’s ritual as sitting on his lap. The form of “Dear Santa letters” typically include: a testament of “nice” not “naughty” behavior, a wish-list of toys, courteous mention of Mrs. Claus and the elves, and concern for the reindeer (especially Rudolph).
Children in Poland, Japan, and Great Britain are allegedly the most prolific writers of letters to Santa. While sample letters are on Internet sites that also sell Santa stationery, far more common is the hand-written letter illustrated with Santas, reindeers, sleds, Christmas trees, presents, etc. Japanese children sometimes include pieces of origami with their letters. Addressed to Santa in the North Pole, Lapland, the Arctic Circle, the town of Santa Claus, Indiana, and elsewhere in the world, children’s letters are often answered by postal workers and charity volunteers. While children in Canada use a special postal code (H0H 0H0) those in Mexico and other Latin American countries send their letters attached to helium balloons. Since the turn of the 20th century children have also sent their Santa letters to newspapers where they have been reprinted in articles.
In Britain, there was a tradition that children use to burn their Christmas letters in the fire so that they can float up the chimney with the smoke and wind can then magically transport them to the North Pole, to Santa.
What is on your list to Santa this year?
Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)