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CHRISTMAS

Wish lists from children worldwide pile up at Santa’s post offices in Germany

Who says it’s too early to get excited about Christmas? In the town of Himmelpfort north of Berlin at Santa’s largest German post office, thousands of letters have been piling up for weeks now.

Wish lists from children worldwide pile up at Santa's post offices in Germany
Children greeting Santa Claus at the opening of the Christmas post office in Himmelpfort last year. Photo: DPA.

With Christmas over a month away, Santa and his helpers already have their hands full.

When the jolly man arrives with his entourage to open up the Christmas post office in the Brandenburg town of Himmelpfort on Thursday, the team will have to get cracking on the huge task ahead of them.

By the end of August, some 2,000 letters from children across the globe had already been counted at the post office, said Deutsche Post spokeswoman Tina Birke.

But the big man won’t be able to reply to all the letters himself. In the coming weeks, 20 diligent helpers speaking over two dozen different languages will sort through piles and piles of letters.

Everyone who writes to the Weihnachtsmann (as he’s known in Germany) should get a reply before Christmas – as long as their wish list arrives at his desk at least ten days before Christmas Eve.

Toys, mobile phones and tablets are particularly sought after, said Birke, but many children also wish for health for their family members or peace.

Last year, about 281,000 wish lists arrived in Himmelpfort, making it the largest of the seven Christmas post offices run by Deutsche Post in Germany.

Its origins go back to 1984, when a local postwoman discovered two letters to Santa from children in Berlin and Saxony.

She decided to answer them herself – and word quickly spread that this was the place to write to if you wanted to reach Santa.

By the early nineties, Himmelpfort was receiving about 2,000 letters to the Weihnachtsmann every year – and in 1995, Deutsche Post stepped in to provide helpers and give the depot the official status of post office for two months during the festive season every year.

The Christmas post office in Engelskirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, also opens on Thursday. Last year, helpers at this branch also had their hands full as the post office received around 128,000 letters from 53 countries.

The remaining Christmas post office branches in Germany are located in Himmelsthür, Himmelpforten and Nikolausdorf in Lower Saxony, Himmelstadt in Bavaria and St. Nikolaus in Saarland.

Last year, a total of around 560,000 letters were counted from all seven of Germany’s festive post offices.

Fancy letting the Weihnachtsmann know what's on your wishlist this year?

You'll want to send a letter to:

An den Weihnachtsmann

Weihnachtspostfiliale

16798 Himmelpfort

Deutschland/Germany

READ ALSO: 8 things that prove it’s Christmas in Germany

CHRISTMAS

German Christmas market closures ‘can’t be ruled out’: health expert

As Germany battles a fierce Covid wave, concerns are growing over events, with one health expert saying closures of the country's beloved Christmas markets can't be ruled out.

Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th.
Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

Martina Wenker, president of the Lower Saxony Medical Association, said she believed Christmas markets may have to be cancelled if the Covid-19 situation gets worse in Germany. 

“Depending on the regional incidence situation, closures should not be ruled out in extreme cases,” Wenker told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

“We can’t stand by and celebrate while next door in the hospitals, planned operations have to be postponed frequently, corona patients are dying, and staff in practices and clinics are at their limits.”

Wenker said regional leaders allowed the opening of Christmas markets on the basis that the Covid situation was moderate.

“But if we reach higher levels of escalation, we will have to consider whether Christmas markets are still justifiable,” she said.

Germany on Tuesday reported 32,048 Covid infections within 24 hours and 265 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence increased to 312.4 Covid cases per 100,000 residents. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid incidence tops 300 for first time

‘Maximum safety’

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said on Monday that he wanted to ensure there was “maximum safety” around Christmas markets.

He said it will be among the topics discussed at the Covid crisis talks between the federal government and state leaders this Thursday. 

In general, Söder said mask requirements should remain at Christmas markets as well as distance rules and other protection measures. 

In an interview with broadcaster Bayern3, Söder explained that so far there is no legal framework for Bavaria to cancel Christmas markets. “At the moment, we cannot legally order it,” he said.

Some Christmas markets, which have recently opened to the public, are already enforcing strict rules such as excluding the unvaccinated from entry, or not serving alcohol to people unless they can show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid. 

READ ALSO:

Vocabulary

Christmas market – (der) Weihnachtsmarkt

Celebrate – feiern

Planned operations/procedures – geplante Eingriffe 

Postponed – verschoben

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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