November 11, 2008 / 2:36 PM / 10 years ago

Santa's little German helpers already hard at work

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Six weeks before Christmas, post offices across Germany have started work on answering thousands of children’s Christmas wish lists from all over the world, a Deutsche Post spokesman said on Tuesday.

The eight post offices, chosen in locations with seasonal names — such as Heaven’s Gate, Angel Church and St. Nicholas, stretch from the northern state of Lower Saxony to Bavaria in the South, Brandenburg in the east and Saarland in the West.

Germany’s post office funds and organizes the service every year and employs a handful of people for the six week period to answer each child’s letter individually.

Last year the specially designated post offices received letters from over 280,000 children in 80 countries.

“Our workers are capable of writing replies in 16 different languages, which is very necessary because we have become a world-famous Santa-post-office,” said Rolf Schulz, a spokesman for Deutsche Post.

Although Christmas post offices also exist in other countries, especially in the Nordic states, the German service claims to be the busiest in the world.

Schulz said the post office had already received about 2,000 wish lists by August and he urged children to send their letters before mid-December if they want to receive a reply.

The company has introduced a special Christmas stamp for the replies, and all German postmen have received orders to forward any letters addressed to Santa, Jesus or St. Nicholas to one of the offices, even if the sender has paid no postage.

Reporting by Josie Cox, editing by Paul Casciato

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