Santa’s Post Office was built for Eleanor Roosevelt
December 25, 2019 2:19 PM   Subscribe

If you write a letter to Santa Claus/Father Christmas, chances are it’ll end up in a post office in Rovaniemi, a town in Finland that straddles the Arctic Circle. The whole town was burned to the ground by the German army in 1944, and was rebuilt in the shape of a reindeer’s head, as planned by architect Alvar Aalto. Part of the funds came from a UN agency headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, who visited in 1950. She sent the first letter from its post office, and over the years it became the place letters to Father Christmas were sent, hundreds of thousands each year, of which about 40 thousand get replies. The podcast All Points North went to Rovaniemi to find out about Santa’s Post Office, which includes, of course, an interview with Santa.
posted by Kattullus (5 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The LEON mail server states that 21.675% of requests were for a Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200 Shot Range Model air riflle.
posted by clavdivs at 2:42 PM on December 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

I come from Greenland, says Santa
There is a lot to be said about this, but specially the Finns don't know a thing about Nisser, and without Nisser, I can't see how Santa can work. Finns have a whole different belief system, one that I obviously endorse. But they can't have Santa.
posted by mumimor at 2:57 PM on December 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Danish Post stopped forwarding letters to Father Christmas to Greenland some years ago for budgetary reasons and making people sad.
posted by Kattullus at 3:03 PM on December 25, 2019

And an Italian lady sends us the same present every year – a painting of Elvis.
Any freelancers looking to break into public radio with a three minute interview that's guaranteed to get airplay? 'cause who wouldn't want to hear this lady!

I'm surprised that this exists. I'm even more surprised that this exists in a place that is actually very far north. Neat!

Somehow, even as a young kid who believed in Santa, the idea that Santa had a postal address never would have occurred to me. (I mean. . . if Santa has a postal address, why haven't we mounted an expedition to find him and learn his magic secrets? It makes catching Santa into a postal heist rather than a series of traps and blinds.) Even after having heard people talk about the idea before, it still seems pretty weird. Though, I guess 550k letters is something like 0.1 percent of children age 9 or younger in the world in Christian households, making some very poorly justified assumptions about uncorrelated demographics from different surveys. So, it actually is pretty unusual to write to Santa, even among kids likely to believe in Santa.
posted by eotvos at 3:13 PM on December 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

This is fascinating. Photos of the town suggests its beauty. When I win the Lottery (a.k.a. my Retirement Plan) I’d love to travel to the Arctic Circle. Thanks for the post. Excellent timing.
posted by pipoquinha at 6:31 PM on December 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

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