'Dear Santa': How Hong Kong's little helpers make sure he writes back

Thousands of children get a reply to their Xmas letters - thanks to staff at Hongkong Post

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 3:59am

Nothing could be much worse at this time of year than for a young child to write to Santa Claus but get no reply back from the North Pole. The good news is in Hong Kong, this does not happen.

For more than 20 years, Hongkong Post has had their staff help Father Christmas write a response to every letter, and make sure than no child is forgotten - no matter if they were naughty or nice. Last year, Hongkong Post collected more than 7,000 letters to Santa and, with still over two weeks to go to Christmas Day this year, they have already received 1,500. They will continue replying until the end of this month.

"We started this system back in the late-1980s, and use around five full-time staff to write responses to the kids," said Mary Chung, Hongkong Post's senior manager for public relations.

A highlight of the job was reading what the children had to say. Some letters can be very funny, like the boy who invited Santa Claus to visit his home. However, he didn't know if Santa could get into his house as there was no chimney for him to get through. Others can be very touching. A little girl poignantly sent her blessings to the victims of the Lamma ferry accident, and hoped they would have a good Christmas in heaven.

Some of the children asked whether Santa Claus was very busy, and reminded him not to forget giving them gifts, while others asked Santa Claus to write letters to their boyfriend or girlfriend. Santa's letters are sometimes addressed to the North Pole, and sometimes there's no stamp on them. Chung said Hongkong Post staff loved doing the job, as it brought them a lot of satisfaction knowing they were making so many children happy.

"Although they cannot see how the children react on receiving Santa's mail, they can imagine the joy it brings them," she said. "It's what the spirit of Christmas is all about."

Chung also believed that getting a response from Santa encouraged children to communicate more by writing.

"It certainly makes a big difference in many ways when they get a response from Santa," Chung said.