Mail from the North Pole: when Santa replies

Every year, thousands of children around the world mail letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole” – and they get a response thanks to dedicated multilingual teams.

Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St. Nicholas… his name may change, but the jolly old man who makes Christmas wishes come true is a reliable correspondent all around the world, from sunny California to chilly Russia.

Christmas greetings from Santa Claus Village, Reindeerland and Nikolausdorf

Santa’s secret weapon is a network of special Christmas post offices – often with seasonally appropriate names such as the UK’s Reindeerland. Dutch kids write to Sinterklaashof, while Belgians address their Christmas lists directly to “Ciel”, or the sky. The largest Christmas post office in Russia is located in Veliky Ustyug, the official residence of Jack Frost. Meanwhile, German children can choose between seven different seasonal destinations, including Nikolausdorf (Nicholas’s Village). Christmas mail in Austria goes to the Christ Child’s eponymous town of Christkindl, while on the other side of the world in Australia and New Zealand, all kids have to do is address their Christmas lists to the zip code 9999 or 0001. But possibly the best location for Santa’s Main Post Office is in the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland. Set up in 1950, the office has now answered more than 19 million letters from 200 different countries.

A very multilingual Christmas

A letter addressed to Santa can be sent via a normal mailbox – but remember to tell Santa your own address if you want a reply! In 2015, a single Christmas post office in Germany received 302,000 messages. They came from all over the world, meaning that Santa needs a talent for languages as well as for assembling gifts. His little helpers in the specialist team in Brandenburg currently answer letters in 16 languages – and add special Christmas postmarks to their replies. While most messages receive a standard reply with Christmas greetings from Santa, the elves will put pen to paper themselves and offer words of comfort if a child writes to them in distress. They’ll even call in pedagogical assistance in particularly serious cases.

Santa goes digital

In the US, Santa fever can hit dizzying heights. USPS’s special post office has developed entire kits to help kids improve their letter-writing skills. Charities and volunteers then process the results at Elf Road. And Santa has also gone digital: kids can send him an email instead of a letter, while Operation Santa is an online gift program that allows anonymous donors to fulfill children’s Christmas wishes.

According to the Universal Postal Union, Santa receives around 8 million letters annually at his various post offices. Not the most relaxing end to the year for the man in red! We’re ready to lend a hand if he ever needs support from an expert language service provider. And we’d also be happy to help you if you’re still searching for the perfect message for your loved ones this Christmas.

Cover image via Twenty20

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