Letters to Santa

Checking his list!

The Canadian version of Mr. Santa Claus, circa 1915

Now that Christmas has come and gone, the little ones in our life can take stock of what gifts they were given. Perhaps they got what they asked for from Santa or maybe the jolly guy exceeded their expectations. I remember writing my letter to Santa every year when I was a little one. It was one of my favorite traditions – next to putting cookies out for Santa. (Because I always got to enjoy a couple before they made it to the plate!) With the warm happiness of the holidays surrounding us, let’s take a peek at some old letters to Santa and learn more about this annual ritual.

Most historians date this tradition to the late 1800s. Thomas Nast (the caricature artist credited with Santa’s “modern image”) is most likely responsible for this Christmas correspondence. He portrayed Santa reading letters from children and kids sitting on Santa’s lap.

Over the years, the gifts requested may have changed but the format stays true: first you gotta tell Santa how good you’ve been, next you ask for what you’d like, then you ask about the Christmas crew (Mrs. Claus, the elves, and the reindeer), and finally you sign your name.

I really enjoy seeing how the tone of these letters has changed over the decades and you’ll find some great vintage letters to Santa here. Looking through these is heart-warming and it really reminds you how precious the simple things really are. Instead of asking for the wildest toys or the craziest gadgets, these kids often mentioned their siblings and were excited to get a piece of candy and a visit from the big guy. (Toffee was especially popular back in the day!) One of my favorite stories about old letters to Santa comes from Ireland. This letter was found in 1992 as a couple was working on their chimney. After making the letter and its contents public, the author’s son stumbled across the article in the newspaper. How special is that?

Here’s an excerpt from that letter, it’s dated 1911, from Hannah (age 10): “”I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee.”

What did you ask Santa for this year and did you get it?

Cause A Frockus would like to thank these resources: The BBC, Package from Santa, Children and Youth in History, Ancestry, and public domain images.

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