Dear Santa: Germany's Christmas Post Offices

Dear Santa: Germany's Christmas Post Offices

About half a million wish lists from around the globe arrive at Germany’s Christmas post offices each year. Here are some of the special addresses.

The pioneer: Himmelsthür

Germany’s very first Christmas post office was opened in Himmelsthür in 1967. Himmelsthür is a district in the town of Hildesheim, Lower Saxony. Envelopes with the special issue stamps and the Christmas postmark from Himmelsthür are highly desirable collectors’ items for philatelists around the world. An den Weihnachtsmann in Himmelsthür, 31137 Hildesheim

International: Engelskirchen

The wish lists come from around 60 nations, such as Australia, Brazil, Uganda, Japan or Chile, and are addressed to Baby Jesus in Engelskirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia. It is one of the most popular addresses for young and old and receives around 140,000 letters. So far the oldest lady to write was 99 years old. An das Christkind, 51777 Engelskirchen

Multilingual: Himmelpfort

The flood of Christmas mail – 300,000 letters in 2013 – is dealt with in 17 different languages at the Himmelpfort Christmas post office in Brandenburg. An den Weihnachtsmann, Weihnachtspostfiliale, 16798 Himmelpfort

Personal: Himmelstadt

Since 1986, Himmelstadt has been one of seven official Christmas post offices in Germany and the only one in Bavaria. Its head, Rosemarie Schotte, tries to send short personal replies to the many wishes contained in 70,000 letters each season. An das Christkind, Kirchplatz 3, 97267 Himmelstadt

Mail from the Far East: Himmelreich

According to legend, this village in Lower Saxony received its heavenly name because travellers on the difficult road from Bremen to Hanover regarded the little settlement with a postal station as “the kingdom of heaven”. Nowadays the address is very popular with Chinese children. An den Weihnachtsmann in Himmelreich, 31535 Neustadt am Rübenberge

Publicity stunt: St. Nikolaus

In the 1960s, a pharmaceutical company in Weil am Rhein decided to have its Christmas mail sent from St. Nikolaus, a parish in the Saarland. The publicity stunt turned into a tradition, and today the Old Schoolhouse in St. Nikolaus is still responsible for the children’s Christmas wish lists. An den Nikolaus, 66352 St. Nikolaus