Ever wondered where the tradition of writing to Father Christmas aka Santa aka Mr Santa Claus came from?
It's a good question, but finding the answer is a bit tricky. A quick Google search brings up Wikipedia ( not by any means 100 per cent reliable, but better than "coolquiz.com") which merely says it's been for a "good many years".
What is interesting is that scientists have actually analysed the "Dear Santa" letters of boys and girls and found while girls generally write longer, but more polite lists and make requests for other people too, it seems boys get straight to the point.
While it may seem like a bit of an indulgent " I want" rant, scientists have also found that writing to Santa has the educational benefits of prooting literacty, computer litracy and email literacy.
This is especially true if a letter to Santa is the child's first experience of correspondence, or so the experts say.
Please Mr Postman
Now, getting the letters to the North Pole, at Santa HQ is a totally different story.
In Britain it was tradition for some to burn the Christmas letters on the fire so that they would be magically transported by the wind to the North Pole.
However this tradition is dying out in modern times, especially with few homes having open fires in their homes.
In Mexico and other Latin American countries, besides using the mail, sometimes children wrap their letters to a small helium balloon, releasing them into the air so Santa magically receives them.
New Zealand is one of 18 countries where the national postal service helps Santa with all the letters he receives.
This year New Zealand Post will be fielding letters both online and via the mail. If your kids would prefer they can post their letters to Santa Claus, Santa's Workshop, North Pole 0001.
They will receive a thank you and an acknowledgement from Santa himself, but remember to put a return address on the envelope.
With the assistance of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, New Zealand Post can also arrange special letters (in braille or large print) for children who are blind or have low vision.
Santa goes techno
The Telecom Santa Line will ensure that any kid (young or old) will be able to get in touch with the big fella over the next few weeks.
Anyone can call Santa for free, on 0800 222 222, to let him know what's on their wish list.
According to Telecom Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Paris, 2011 saw plenty of requests for Playstations, iPods, trampolines and more curiously, an Airbus A380, an engagement ring and even a baby.
People wanting to chat to Santa can call him from any New Zealand landline, mobile or pay phone around the country.
One instance of a wrong number dialed led to the tracking of Santa- which you can do with your kids online now!
According to Wikipedia, In 1955, a Sear Roebuck store in Colorado Springs, Colorado gave children a number to call a "Santa hotline".
The number was mistyped and children called the Continental Air Defense Command(CONAD) on Christmas Eve instead.
The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first call for Santa and responded by telling children that there were signs on the radar that Santa was indeed heading south from the North Pole.
A tradition began which continued under the name NORAD Tracks Santa when in 1958 Canada and the United States jointly created the North Amercian Air Defense Command(NORAD).
Here are some other great websites you can visit with your kids, for Christmas games, trivia, Santa tracking and personalised messages.
In addition to providing holiday-themed entertainment, "Santa tracking" websites raise interest in space technology and serve to educate children in geography.
It is always advisable for you to search these sites with your kids. This might be the first time they have been exposed to the INternet, use this experience as an exercise in safe Internet surfing.
1. Track Santa
- © Fairfax NZ News