J. R. R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas 1920-1943

Beginning in 1920, Tolkien would write to his children in the guise of Father Christmas every year until 1943

“Isn’t the North Polar Bear silly?…[he] turned on all the Northern Lights for two years in one go. You have never heard or seen anything like it. I have tried to draw a picture of it: but I am too shaky to do it properly and you can’t paint fizzing light can you?”

J. R. R. Tolkien, Letters from Father Christmas


Tolkien Christmas letters


J. R. R. Tolkien (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) might have been better than most parents at keeping the fantasy of Santa Clause alive, or at least embellishing it. Before he wrote The Hobbitt (1937) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (1953-55), the English writer, poet, philologist and academic wrote letters from Father Christmas to his four children, John, Michael, Christopher and Priscilla. Beginning in 1920, Tolkien would write every Christmas until 1943.

His tales from the North Pole arrived in envelopes bearing his handmade, official-looking North Pole postage stamps. The letters were sometimes delivered by a postman who graciously included them with his usual deliveries.

Stories revealed that Father Christmas didn’t work just one day a year, but spent a good deal of energy fighting off goblins, watching the lights turn on an off (what we call the Northern Lights) and hanging out with his helper, North Polar Bear, and his cubs Paksu and Valkotukka.

The work was compiled in the Letters From Father Christmas (1976). For added substance, Tolkien, an adept artist, illustrated his stories.

This letter is from 1925:

Cliff House

Top of the World

Near the North Pole

Xmas 1925

My dear boys,

I am dreadfully busy this year — it makes my hand more shaky than ever when I think of it — and not very rich. In fact, awful things have been happening, and some of the presents have got spoilt and I haven’t got the North Polar Bear to help me and I have had to move house just before Christmas, so you can imagine what a state everything is in, and you will see why I have a new address, and why I can only write one letter between you both. It all happened like this: one very windy day last November my hood blew off and went and stuck on the top of the North Pole. I told him not to, but the N.P.Bear climbed up to the thin top to get it down — and he did. The pole broke in the middle and fell on the roof of my house, and the N.P.Bear fell through the hole it made into the dining room with my hood over his nose, and all the snow fell off the roof into the house and melted and put out all the fires and ran down into the cellars where I was collecting this year’s presents, and the N.P.Bear’s leg got broken. He is well again now, but I was so cross with him that he says he won’t try to help me again. I expect his temper is hurt, and will be mended by next Christmas. I send you a picture of the accident, and of my new house on the cliffs above the N.P. (with beautiful cellars in the cliffs). If John can’t read my old shaky writing (1925 years old) he must get his father to. When is Michael going to learn to read, and write his own letters to me? Lots of love to you both and Christopher, whose name is rather like mine.

That’s all. Goodbye.

Father Christmas



“Excuse thick writing I have a fat paw. I help Father Christmas with his packing; I live with him. I am the GREAT (Polar) BEAR”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters from Father Christmas


Tolkien Christmas letters


“If you find that not many of the things you asked for have come, and not perhaps quite so many as sometimes, remember that this Christmas all over the world there are a terrible number of poor and starving people.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters from Father Christmas


Tolkien letters Christmas

Tolkien letters Christmas


“So, my dears, I hope you will be happy this Christmas and not quarrel, and will have some good games with your Railway all together. Don’t forget old Father Christmas, when you light your tree.”


Tolkien letters Christmas


Via: Open Culture

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