From letter of thanks to brilliant marketing idea

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“Father! I am delighted to utter this name …” Many letters of thanks used to begin with these words. Indeed, in the 17th century wish lists as we know them were not addressed to Santa Claus or the Christ Child. No, they were rather songs of praise to the institutions of fatherhood and motherhood and called Glückwunschbrief. In it, children gave thanks for the good upbringing they had enjoyed, while also asking for God’s blessing. They were written in calligraphy and then memorized, and did not reveal much of the heart’s desire of a child.

 A bit later in the grade schools, teachers provided “wish list” templates for students to copy and recite, more or less festively, as usual on Christmas Eve.

 How wish lists evolved from letters of thanks

The predecessor of today’s wish list stems from the German toy industry. Different manufacturers and merchants printed images of their wares on sheets which children then only had to mark. A Christmas marketing idea was born. Around 1937 children first started writing actual wishes on their wish lists and even added the retailer where Santa Claus could find these gifts. At the top of the list back then were toy soldiers, popular not just among boys.

The wish list today

The times, as well as the wishes, change. Nowadays there are no toy soldiers or teddy bears on the list, but rather game consoles, MP3 players and pets. But where do all of these wishes addressed to Santa actually end up after they have been sent? At Germany’s oldest seasonal post office in Himmelpforten in Lower Saxon, voluntary helpers sort, read and respond to the longings and wishes of children from around the world. Every year about 50,000 lovingly decorated and frequently also homemade wish lists pile up there. Santa’s main post office is located even farther north. In Finland, to be precise. The address is: Joulupukin Pääposti, FI-96930 Napapiiri. Anyone who still believes in Santa Claus can send their wish list there and hope for a small miracle.

 With this in mind we would like to wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas with your loved ones.

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