Dealing with the holidays can be a hassle for some but a joy to others. Preparing for the holidays means stocking up on festive decorations and making yourself presentable for the numerous feasts and gatherings that you’re likely to have scheduled. Whether it be family gatherings or work parties, you’re sure to be surrounded by the presence of joy and celebration.
With Christmas slowly getting closer and closer by the day, many people are preparing in advance to participate in one of the most widely recognised holidays in the world. Feasts are prepared, gifts packed, and letters written for co-workers and loved ones. If you think that writing to Santa is merely a tradition for children, then you won’t be wrong. But the idea of writing to Santa has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century when mailing was more prominent than sending messages through your phone. Santa’s letters have a rich history in inspiring the youth and proving that charity and generosity are universal and timeless virtues to uphold.
Santa Claus: the legend from St. Nicholas
To those who’ve decided to do a little bit of research on the legendary figure’s origins, it’s not a new fact to recognise that Santa Claus came from St. Nicholas of Myra, whose act of gift-giving and random acts of kindness made him as a symbol of joy and goodwill. His widely recognised red bishop robe is the basis of the current design of Santa Claus which was first released in themid-1860s. Cartoonist Thomas Nast drew the figure of Santa Claus as a plump old man in red which made it his staple look which is recognisable even today.
Letters ‘written’ by Santa
Historically, parents used to write to their children ‘as Santa’ to commend them on their good behaviour with the year coming to an end. Children would receive these and sit in awe wondering how Santa could have known in detail what they were up to when they thought no one was looking.
It was after Thomas Nast illustrated an image of Santa at his desk proofing his ‘naughty’ and ‘good’ lists that children saw this image as proof of Santa’s routine activities in identifying who was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Swarms of children in the U.S. sent letters to ‘Santa’ who differed in the place of residence depending on how they knew of Santa’s story. Though most children had a common understanding that Santa lived in the North Pole, some were more imaginative in their words and chose a place like ‘Snow land’, ‘Iceland’, and even ‘in Heaven’.
Santa ‘writing back’
Charity organisations and anonymous philanthropists made use of the Santa-addressed letters to commit acts of goodwill to help strangers around them. Nowadays, ordering a letter from Santa in the UK is not just an act of charity but also a sign of the unmistakable child-like nature in all of us and the hope of spreading the magic of innocence and compassion to those around us.