Archivist Helen explores the Post Office's role in helping Santa reply to letters from children across the nation.

For the last 55 years, British children have been receiving replies to their letters to Santa, with a little help from the Post Office.

On 12 December 1963, the Post Office issued a press release from the man himself saying that he would be able to reply to letters if they had a return address. The Post Office expected to send 5,000 replies that year but actually sent 7,500.

Press release 1963, POST 122/6330

The archive includes a selection of letters from the children which give an insight into popular gifts in the early 1960s. The requests included: bunk beds, skates, a post office set, a guitar, a tractor you can ride on, a colouring set, and ‘lots of toys’.

Letter from a child 1964, POST 122/6341

In return, the children received a colourful Christmas card with a message from Santa.

Card from Santa 1963, POST 122/6329

 

Message in a card from Santa 1963, POST 122/6329

To make the cards extra special they were sent in envelopes bearing special Reindeerland postmarks.

Reindeerland postmark, POST 122/6329

Different cards were sent each year. Unfortunately, the archive does not have a complete set, but it does have the cards for 1964, 1965, 1981 and 1994.

Card from Santa 1994, OB1995.70/2a

The concept of letters to Santa remains popular. For many children, it will be their first experience of using the post. In an increasingly technological world, it might be the only time some children send a letter. This year letters to Santa can be sent to:

Santa/Father Christmas
Santa’s Grotto
Reindeerland
XM4 5HQ

Or for a reply in Welsh

Sion Corn
Ogof Sion Corn
Gwlad Y Ceirw
XM4 5HQ

by 7 December 2018

– Helen Dafter, Archivist