Santa Claus, Indiana, is celebrating a remarkable event this year; the 100th anniversary of the Santa Letters program. Our little town has spent the past century helping Santa answer the hundreds of thousands of letters that have flooded the post office in Santa Claus, Indiana, each Christmas season. And every year since 1914, a dedicated group of volunteer Elves spends countless hours making sure each and every letter from children all over the world receives a reply.
Here’s a little background on our story: In 1914, James Martin was appointed postmaster of Santa Claus, Indiana, and began answering some of the letters addressed to Santa. Over the ensuing years, the flurry of letters arriving in town turned into a blizzard and the community began assisting with the letters. The tradition continues to this day, as community groups, high school students, neighbors and friends gather at the Santa Claus Museum & Village, put on their elf hats and help Santa respond to all the Christmas wishes sent his way.
The Elves are funded through donations and answer over 13,000 letters each year. These letters arrive from across the United States and all over the world. The languages may differ and the lists of Christmas wishes change over the years, but the time honored tradition of writing a letter to Santa has stayed constant. It is a tradition that links generations of children together through a strong belief in the magic of Christmas.
The letters are often funny, sad, heartwarming or nostalgic. They come from adults and children, from those who live comfortably and those who are struggling to get by. Some letters ask questions (i.e. how to you fit down our chimney?) while others make specific requests (i.e. pretty please Santa, bring me that pony!). And while the Elves cannot send money or toys—that is Santa’s job—or work miracles, they still can deliver a smile, warm greetings from Santa Claus, and an enduring belief in the magic of Christmas.
In 1897, a young girl wrote a letter to the New York Sun, asking if there is truly a Santa Claus. “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” the editor wrote. “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist… How dreary the world would be if there were no Santa Claus!” Santa’s Elves couldn’t agree more. We are proud to celebrate 100 years of keeping the magic of Christmas alive. Please stop by and visit us at the Santa Claus Museum & Village and write your letter to Santa. If you can’t pay us a visit, get those letters in the mail. Christmas will be here before you know it. Merry Christmas everyone!
To learn more about sending letters to Santa, or the Santa Claus Museum & Village, visit the Santa Claus Museum website or call 812.544.2434.
Emily Weisner Thompson is the Director of the Santa Claus Museum & Village in Santa Claus, Indiana, and author of the book, Images of America: Santa Claus. An ND grad who grew up in the Midwest, Emily is married with two sons. She looks forward to the arrival of the Christmas season each year.