Rovaniemi: “Dear Santa Claus, I need a little help in my studies so that I can bring laurels to my family”, “Please ring my doorbell, I want to give you a gift” - These are some of the thousands of letters that are written by children from India to a most-loved cherubic man in red robes, a flowing white beard and a hearty laugh, and of course a bag full of gifts.
Welcome to this city, which is a commercial centre of Finland’s northernmost province Lapland, where the sun never sets in midsummer and is best-known world over as the hometown of Santa Claus.
What is common in all the letters to Santa is the gentle reminder for a "gift" or a desperate appeal for a visit.
“Please call me”, writes Parvathy from Hyderabad, while Harneet Kaur from Chandigarh has “heard” so much about Santa Claus that she wants him to visit her “at least once.”
All letters land at the main post office located in the heart of Santa’s Workshop Village and is manned by his favorite elves.
It is always Christmas at the post office which is visited by 400,000 visitors every year.
It wears a very festive look with gift wrapped packets, Christmas cards and souvenirs and the sound of Christmas carols in the background.
Santa Claus, who can be met on any day of the year at the Santa Claus Office on the Arctic Circle, has received 15.5 million letters from 198 countries since 1985. But it is not that he does not reply.
He has replied to more than 40,000 letters in 12 different languages, including English, Italian, Polish, Finnish, French, German, Korean and Chinese.
Japan and China are in the list of top six countries from where Santa Claus receives the maximum letters. While UK tops the list with 150,000 letters, Italy follows with 100,000 and Poland with 45,000.
It is not just children who are writing to Santa, but parents too write to him. Ketan Sahah from Surat writes: “I love you and our children love you too.”