A visit from Santa Claus is perhaps the most exciting part of any child’s Christmas and British children have been hanging up their stockings in eager anticipation since the early 1860s.
While examining festive issues of historical British newspapers, researchers at leading UK family history website, Findmypast, have discovered that “letters to Father Christmas” were frequently published in their original wording by local papers during the holiday season.
Findmypast’s research has revealed that, while the tradition has remained largely unchanged, the nature of the gifts requested and expected by children has changed dramatically and continues to do so.
Many letters reveal 20th century children were far easier to please – and requests were remarkably selfless.
Some, from the war years, reveal that even the Blitz couldn’t stop Santa!
From desperately seeking dolls to begging for pieces of fruit, these super-cute letters – many which were printed in DC Thomson and Aberdeen Journals publications – are sure to fill your heart with joy!
Here are a selection from across the country.
DUNDEE EVENING TELEGRAPH
On Christmas Eve in 1928, the Dundee Evening Telegraph published a series of letters that had been sent to Father Christmas by local children.
- Eight-year-old Kenneth M Kay of 7 Annfield Row wrote: “Dear Santa Claus, I wish you a Merry Xmas and a happy new year. Please will you give me a flash-lamp, a pencil box and a game of snakes and ladders and a cake of rubber and a pencil holder and please will you give me a ribbon for my cat and I would like you to give me an orange and an apple and when you come down our chimney you will find a cake on the table and a cup of tea for you”.
Meanwhile, eight-year-old Jack Blues of 5 Morn Street, Alyth, wrote: “Dear Santa, I am counting the days till you come. The calendar is quite black with me counting the days. I want a book and a fountain pen and anything else you like. You always know what else to give me. The last time I said that I got a nice Fairy Cycle. With love, Jack Blues”.
- Margaret Buick of 71 West Park Street, Cowdenbeath wrote: “Dear Santa Claus, I hope you will remember to visit our house on Xmas eve. I am so wanting a little sewing machine like Mummy’s, to make cloths, and perhaps another doll as mine has lost a leg, and most of its hair, and would you mind to leave some wee thing for our baby, for she did not have a stocking last year. She likes chocolate. A big hug and a kiss from your loving friend Margaret Buick.”
- One particularly practical little girl by the name of Alison Cowan wrote: “Dear Santa Claus, I would like a red waterproof coat and hat to keep the rain out of my clothes. I want six handkerchiefs for Sundays and a box of chocolates to eat. Santa Claus I would like to see you, but my father and mother say that if I lie awake, you will not come.”
- Sandy Nicoll wrote: “Dear Santa Claus, I am writing – to let you know what I would like in my stocking this Xmas. Dear Santa I would very much like a meccano set, you can make motor cars, build bridges and ever so many interesting- things. Dear Santa do you think I would be selfish if I also asked for a chemistry set? To make invisible ink and other mysterious things, but if it means another boy not getting it I can do without. Hoping you will manage to give all boys and girls present this year. Wishing, every one a jolly Xmas.”
- Patricia Wallace of Marybank Lane was dead set on a dolly and a manicure set. She wrote: “My dear Santa, I am longing for Christmas Eve, you will be very busy just now, I would like for my Christmas a dolly a big book, and a manicuring set. Now you want to know the reason why I want them. Well how I want the dolly to keep me comfortable in the house. And the reason why I want the book is to read, when I am fed up with my dolly, and how I want the manicuring set is to keep my nails clean. I am, your loving friend, Patricia Wallace.”
- Eight-year-old Jack Gold of South George Street, Dundee, wrote: “Dear Santa Claus, Don’t you think l am lucky having Christmas Day for my birthday. I will be nine years old then. In my stocking I would like an apple and orange and some sweets and also a pair of fur-backed gloves to keep my hands nice and warm on cold days. I would like and Indian set, so that I could be a real Red Indian when I get tired of being an ordinary boy. And also a big boat with sails that I could take to the Stobswell Pond and sail in the Summer time. I would also like the book called “the wonder book of ships” so that I could read all about the different kinds of boats that sail the seas.”
- Dorothy Galloway from Errol was keen to ensure Santa stayed warm… by offering him a cup of Bovril. She wrote: “Dear Santa, Xmas Eve will soon be here once more. I do hope you will pop down our chimney. I would be very happy if you could bring me a story book for girls for I adore reading. As I can’t stick nighties do you think I might have some cosy pyjamas? You will find your Bovril as usual in the thermos. With lots of love from Dorothy Galloway.”
- Six-year-old Marjorie Clark had a very modest request for Santa. She wrote: “I would very much like a slate, for my teacher said my slate was too wee, also a nice pair of shoes and stockings as I hope to go to a party at the Sunday School. I have a dress, so I need shoes to match, don’t I? I think that is all I really need only of course an apple, orange, and a new penny which we all like in the toe of our stockings. I have still the nice doll you sent me last Xmas for which I shall always love you. PS. Please excuse pencil but I am not big enough to write in ink.”