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A Brief History of Sending a Letter to Santa

MULTIZ321

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A Brief History of Sending a Letter to Santa - by Alex Palmer/ Arts & Culture/ SmithsonianMag.com

"Dating back more than 150 years, the practice of writing to St. Nick tells a broader history of America itself.

My pals say there is no Santa but I just have to believe in him,” writes 12-year-old Wilson Castile Jr., writing to the jolly fellow in 1939. Twelve might seem a bit old to believe in the portly resident of the North Pole. But Wilson, writing from his home in Annapolis, Missouri, seems worthy of extra sympathy. His explains in the letter that his father, a deputy sheriff, was shot and killed by gangsters and his new stepdad “is so mean he never buys me anything.”

Such sad or funny stories are not unusual when reading through Santa letters, going back to the 19th century. Notes sent to Santa are an unlikely lens through which to understand the past, offering a peek into the worries, desires and quirks of the times in which they were written. But as interesting as the children’s notes themselves are the changing ways adults have sought to answer them and their motivations for doing so..."


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(ElisaGH/iStock)


Richard
 
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