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Swiss Post helps out Father Christmas

Swiss postal workers gave a helping hand to Father Christmas and the Christ Child over the 2008 Christmas season, delighting thousands of youngsters.

Swiss Post said on Friday that its six-person team had answered 97 per cent of the 16,401 letters sent by children to the figures traditionally associated with bringing presents.

The only letters that didn't get a reply, and a little gift, were those with illegible or incomplete addresses that thwarted the team's best efforts to track the writers down.

More than half the letters – 9,597 - came from the French-speaking part of Switzerland, followed by 3,258 from the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino.

German-speaking children were less keen, or more sceptical. Although German-speakers account for nearly two-thirds of the population, they wrote only 16 per cent of the letters – 2,619. There were just 13 from the Romansh-speaking area.

The team, based in Chiasso in Ticino, responded in any of the four national languages or in English, sending 245 responses to children abroad.

The Christmas answering service has existed for nearly 60 years. When it started in 1950/51 it received 450 letters, of which 250 came from abroad. For the past five years it has hovered around 17,000 letters.

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