18 December 2007 The United Nations Universal Postal Union (UPU) has identified the recipient of the most personalized letters in the world: a white-bearded man who prefers to wear red suits and is so reclusive that he only travels on one night of the year.
Santa Claus, sometimes known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or one of many other names, and other related figures such as the Three Kings or Russia’s Ded Moroz receive more than six million letters every year from children worldwide, according to the UPU, which is based in Berne, Switzerland.
Postal operations in at least 20 countries employ special elves to handle – and respond to – the huge volume of mail, often addressed simply “to Santa, North Pole,” and peaking every December. Canada Post replies to letters in 26 languages while Germany’s Deutsche Post replies in 16 languages. In some countries Santa even answers his own emails.
Many UPU members say that the volume of mail continues to increase, despite the emergence of emails, text messages and other forms of electronic communication in recent years. Canadians and the French are among the busiest correspondents, with more than one million children in each country firing off missives each year.
The UPU reports that it is not entirely clear where Santa lives: last year 90 per cent of the total letters were sent to Finland, but thousands of letters were also sent from other countries to France, Germany and Slovakia. In Canada, meanwhile, Santa enjoys his own postcode: H0H 0H0.