Letters to Santa

Letters to Santa

Faith Smith, Community

One of the brightest times in a child’s year is Christmas; the lights, the snow, and the overall cheerful atmosphere. One opportunity to enjoy this time of year presents itself through writing letters to Saint Nick. This tradition is a fun way for children, and everyone else, to celebrate the holiday season and work out your gift list. For kids everywhere, the time for writing letters is soon approaching. There was an event held at the Key Center Fire Station on December 4th at 3:30 in the afternoon where kids wrote their letters to Santa. For those that live closer to Gig Harbor, there is a “Letters to Santa” mailbox in the Skansie Park pavilion where you can drop off your letters through December 15th.

Writing letters to Santa has a long history that started in the early 1800s, though instead of sending letters, children would receive letters from Saint Nick, who was seen as a disciplinarian that advised children on how to better behave. Sometime in the late 1800s children started writing letters to him after receiving their letters. Not only did Saint Nick travel in and out of homes via the chimney, but so did his mail. Parents left their notes, writing as Saint Nick, to children by the fireplace or in one of the nearby stockings. Eventually, children in the U.S. began putting their replies to him in the same place they found his letters back. Children from Scotland yelled their wishes straight up the chimney, and children living in Latin America tied their letters to balloons and watched them float away.

At first, the children’s letters to Santa ended up in the Dead Letter Office, and were destroyed along with other letters to undeliverable addresses. Though many individuals offered to answer Santa’s letters, they were technically not allowed  since opening someone else’s letters, even Dead Letters, was against the law. In 1913 the policy was permanently changed, allowing local charity groups to answer the letters as long as they got the approval of the local postmaster.

Even though the tradition has changed with the times, from receiving letters to writing them and even sending Santa emails, it’s a fun tradition that has been passed down through the generations. Writing letters to Santa is a thoroughly enjoyable event that children and adults have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy for centuries.



Fabry, M. (2015, December 21). Letters to Santa: How the Christmas tradition started. Time. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://time.com/4147998/history-letters-to-santa-claus/

Magazine, S. (2015, December 3). A brief history of sending a letter to Santa. Smithsonian.com. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/brief-history-sending-letter-santa-180957441/