ATHENS, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- For employees at the Hellenic Post Office (ELTA), the state-owned postal services provider in Greece, December in the past 27 years is the busiest and happiest month of the year.
Putting on elves costumes and red hats, they are working overtime to collect and respond to thousands of children's wishes for new toys and peace for the world. Their goal is to help keep the magic of Santa Claus, ELTA's Public Relations department head, Olga Legga, told Xinhua on Thursday.
The program, "Write a letter to Santa Claus", started when ELTA employees saw an increasing load of letters addressed to Santa Claus piling up in the headquarters in late 80s. They took action to make sure that no such letter will be left unanswered, so that kids will keep believing in their favorite Santa.
Over the past 27 years, letters to Santa Claus are collected in special red boxes placed outside every local post office across Greece, read by ELTA employees and all children receive a written reply and a symbolic present -- a stamp, to start their own collection.
"We are Santa Claus' aides. We are transferring children's letters to Santa Claus. We are sending a reply to the kids that their letters have reached their destination," Legga told Xinhua during a tour at the "elves'" premises in Athens.
Through the program, ELTA promotes in parallel the magic of the classic mail correspondence process, she said.
"There is magic in the anticipation of a letter, in writing a letter and waiting for response. There is magic in the children's world of imagination and dreaming these days. Santa Claus is a super hero who is expected to bring them something once a year. It is certain that he will fulfill all their requests and dreams. Through this action we help keep the magic, the dream, the existence of Santa Claus and the mystery surrounding him," Legga explained.
Santa Claus in Greece receives an increasing volume of letters each year. ELTA employees counted 120,000 last year. Some of them are funny, others move them to tears.
"There are letters containing carrots for Santa's reindeers and candies for the elves, but there are also letters from kids wishing for good health for one of their loved ones who is sick. There are also children asking for communication with a loved one who has passed away. All these are so touching," Legga said.
Since 2010, the gloom of the debt crisis testing Greece had been reflected on the letters. Many kids were asking for a job for dad.
This year due to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force in May, ELTA employees are no longer allowed to open letters addressed to Santa Claus, so they read only the cards which are not sealed up in closed envelopes.
In any case, as long as the addresses of senders are written on the envelopes, they will receive a reply that all of their wishes have reached Santa Claus.