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Dear Santa Letter Week – November 5-11, 2023

Dear Santa Letter Week takes place during the second week in November, and takes place from November 5 to 11 this year. Children can write letters to Santa Claus and receive a response from the North Pole. Families throughout the United States are rushing beyond their Thanksgiving celebrations and into the Christmas season!

History of Dear Santa Letter Week

Toward the close of the 1700s, St. Nicholas made his first foray into popular culture in the United States. A New York newspaper stated in December 1773 and again in 1774 that groups of Dutch families had assembled to commemorate his death anniversary. Nick’s Dutch moniker, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas, became Santa Claus. At the New York Historical Society’s annual meeting in 1804, John Pintard, a member, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas.

Sinter Klaas is variously depicted — from wearing a blue hat, crimson waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man sporting a broad-brimmed hat and a “big pair of Flemish trunk hose” as his fame rose. In 1820, stores began advertising Christmas shopping, and by the 1840s, newspapers had created dedicated sections for holiday advertisements, which frequently contained images of the symbol of the holidays: Santa Claus.

An Episcopal preacher, Clement Clarke Moore, wrote “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” most commonly known as “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,” for his three daughters in 1822. Moore’s work, which he was reluctant to publish at first owing to the whimsical nature of the subject, is primarily responsible for our present image of Santa Claus.

Countless Christmas-celebrating kids flocked to a Philadelphia store in 1841 to view a life-size Santa Claus model. It would only be a matter of time before the allure of seeing a “living” Santa Claus drew youngsters and their parents into stores. When Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock allowed local postmasters to let their workers react to letters received over the holiday season in 1912, the practice of writing to Santa began.

In the 1940s, mail traffic for Santa expanded to the extent that the Postal Service extended the same offer to philanthropic organizations, community groups, and companies to assist and answer to children who wrote letters to Santa.

Dear Santa Letter Week timeline

St. Nicholas Makes an Appearance

St. Nicholas makes his first appearance in American popular culture.

Stores Advertise Christmas Shopping

Stores start advertising Christmas shopping.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ Is Published

Clement Clarke Moore publishes his poem and sets the tone for the modern perception of Santa Claus's image.

The First Return Letters

Frank Hitchcock, the Postmaster, approved replies written by local postmasters to letters addressed to Santa Claus.

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