Santa Mail Source

I was listening to the 2008 Christmas Special of the BBC radio programme The Unbelievable Truth, where the following was said to be true:

Santa has more mail than any other fictional or divine entity.
God and Sherlock Holmes come next.

I couldn't find a list that confirms/debunks this (too much "noise"), but I did stumble upon a number for letters to Santa Claus:

More than 6 million letters every year are addressed to Santa Claus, North Pole, or some variation of that.

[United Nations Radio]

My Question:
Does anyone know a source that confirms (or debunks) the claim?

  • I'm not sure how to tag this. Feel free to edit it with more appropriate tags.
    – Oliver_C
    Jan 29 '12 at 12:00
  • I'm from Asia, so i'm wondering if this is a tradition (in US) to send mails to fictional characters. It doesn't make any sense. Is it seen only in US/UK?
    – John
    Jan 30 '12 at 14:36
  • @John it's in Australia as well...and probably quiet a few more countries. You have to remember the people writing the letter don't consider the recipients to be fictional... Jan 30 '12 at 20:15
  • @John - Nope. In USSR people (kids presumably) sent mail to "Ded Moroz" which was a Russian version of Santa.
    – user5341
    Feb 2 '12 at 18:18
  • @John - Santa's official post office in Finland received letters from 198 countries last year.
    – Oliver_C
    Feb 3 '12 at 15:23

This is hard to answer due to the lack of readily available mail statistics.

What I did find was several pages talking about the volume of mail for Santa and some pages talking about the volume of mail addressed to god.

Canada Post receives millions of letters to Santa each year. Letters to God and the easter bunny are also mentioned but do not seem to be as common.

Letters to god are forwarded on to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, although sometimes only if sufficient postage was paid.

This article from the Guardian states that each year more than 1000 letters to God are received, while this article from The Hindu states that in 2008 around 2000 letters to God were received.

It is important to note that many post offices have programs for dealing with letters addressed to Santa such as the Letters to Santa program in the US.

I can't find any official statistics so it's hard to say for sure, however given what we do know:

  • That there are at least 1,000,000 letters to Santa are handled in Canada per year
  • That special programs exist at post offices around the world to deal with the volume of mail addressed to santa
  • That only ~2000 letters to God are forwarded to the Israeli postal service.

It would seem reasonable to consider the claim likely.

If we assume that the letters to God that get forwarded on to Jerusalem are only 1% of the total letters addressed to God, then that would still only be 1/5th of all the letters addressed to Santa in Canada. An arbitrary assumption, but something interesting to consider.

I couldn't find any statistics for letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes

Based on this I think it is safe to assume that the claim is true.

  • Yes, statistics on Santa are easier to find than on God. Strangely, In 2007 France surpassed Canada regarding number of letters.
    – Oliver_C
    Jan 29 '12 at 15:13
  • @Oliver_C that is interesting. My guess would be that would have something to do with the much higher rate of urbanization in Canada. Jan 29 '12 at 15:18
  • 1
    Do you have a link for the statement "letters to God are forwarded on to the western wall"?
    – eykanal
    Dec 26 '13 at 21:20

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