The exchange of letters between Santa and children seems to have begun with St. Nicholas leaving letters for children in their stockings.
In 1823, the classic story, ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’, was published. This story is recognized today as ‘T’was the Night Before Christmas’. The tale depicts a jolly character known as Santa Claus dressed in a red suit and travelling all over the world in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer on Christmas Eve. This image of Santa Claus persists as the common modern day portrayal.
In 1889, a cartoon shows Santa reading letters from children. Letters written to Santa commonly make references to the writer’s personal behaviour, wish lists of toys and good will toward Mrs. Claus and the reindeer. Some letters include a picture for Santa to enjoy and in more recent times a message about a snack of milk with cookies left on a table for Santa and carrots for his reindeer.
In the 1970’s, a Canadian couple, Charlie and Verna Green from Minnedosa, Manitoba, had a box in their shop where children could deposit letters to Santa. Verna took on the task of replying to these letters. She sometimes responded to as many as 500 in a Christmas season.
In 1982, Canada Post took on the task of answering letters using volunteers and established the famous H0H 0H0 postal code.
Letters to Santa have evolved through the decades with the social and economic changes in society. The lists of wishes from children in these letters often reflected the times they were living in and the general wealth and well being of their families. in later years, catalogues would offer ideas for toys that could be ordered through the general store or eventually from home.
The Museum has a small collection of letters to Santa from Eva Kemp's 1927 class. Several of the letters have been copied from a model provided by the teacher to practice penmanship and letter writing skills. The student would include individual requests in the last part.
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.