'Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is...'

SingPost gets about 500 letters from Singapore residents addressed to Santa Claus every year. It will send the letters to the North Pole even if the address is wrong and there is insufficient postage.
SingPost gets about 500 letters from Singapore residents addressed to Santa Claus every year. It will send the letters to the North Pole even if the address is wrong and there is insufficient postage.PHOTO: COURTESY OF SINGPOST

Santa Claus has an address, and he receives about 500 letters from Singapore every year.

Senders here typically address their letters to "Santa Claus, North Pole". Whether or not they get the address right, Singapore Post ensures the letters are delivered to 325, S. Santa Claus Lane, North Pole, Alaska 99705, United States.

It costs $1.65 to send each letter, but SingPost sends it even if sufficient postage has not been paid. "Letters mean much to those who write them, and we do not wish to let our customers, even our younger ones, down," a spokesman said.

It is not known if anyone replies to the letters sent to this jolly figure who goes back all the way to the third century. Santa Claus comes from Sinter Klaas, the Dutch name of Saint Nicholas, a priest who reportedly helped a poor man by dropping gold into his chimney. He became a popular figure in the early 19th century, as giving gifts during Christmas became mainstream.

Mr Peer Metze, 55, a German who has been living in Singapore for 12 years and acting as Santa Claus for nine, said kids usually ask for toys.

"These letters to Santa represent a mix of hope and tradition. There's a certain hope that their wishes will come true," said Mr Metze, a teacher who has a grown-up daughter.

He recalled one sad incident. "Once this girl gave me a letter with a sad face... she wrote that she wished her parents would stop beating her. Her mother was just there."

That aside, he said he enjoys being Santa Claus, as he can put smiles on people's faces.

Santa Claus brought smiles to Singaporean Rachael Klyne, 30, a public relations manager, and her brother, who wrote to him for six years when they were kids.

Their parents would give them a toy catalogue and ask them to pick their gifts and write their letters.

On Christmas Eve, the kids were told to put their stockings under a Christmas tree and leave a crack in the window for Santa Claus. "When I asked my dad how he could squeeze through that tiny space, he said it was magic," she said.

Her father revealed he was in fact "Santa" when she was 12, but the letters had given them real joy. "We would look forward to it all year, and there was this sense of awe and wonderment when we got exactly what we asked for," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 25, 2016, with the headline ''Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is...''. Print Edition | Subscribe