Lapland, the Hometown of Santa Claus

"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 the 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, as a visiting correspondent discovered.

"Please call me", writes Parvathy from Hyderabad, while Pooja and Praneeeti from Delhi inform Santa Claus that they "believe with whole heart" that he exists and want to be his elves. Harneet Kaur from Chandigarh writes that she has "heard" so much about Santa Claus that she wants him to visit her "at least once. Please do come".

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. It wears a very festive look with gift wrapped packets, Christmas cards and souvenirs and the sound of Christmas carols in the background. No wonder it attracts 400,000 visitors every year.

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 Santa Claus 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.

According to Katja Tervonen, one of the elves at the posti or post office, more and more children from South Asian countries are writing to Santa Claus.

"We are getting thousands of letter from Japan, China and South Korea," Tervonen said.

In fact, Japan and China are in the list of top six countries from where Santa Claus receives the maximum letters.

While Britain tops the list with 150,000 letters, Italy follows with 100,000 and Poland with 45,000.

Interestingly, Finland comes fourth with 26,000 letters, followed by Japan (25,000) and China (18,000), Tervonen said.

"Santa Claus has received more than 12 million items, and annually Santa receives more than half a million letters," she said.

It is also just not children who are writing to Santa Claus. Parents too write to this favourite resident of the city.

Ketan Sahah from Surat writes: "I love you and our children love you too."

"Do not fail to send me the Christmas gift. We are eagerly waiting. I love you Santa," writes Jayant from Lucknow.

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