It’s said Santa needs to travel 11 million km/h to deliver his gifts, assuming no bathroom breaks or pauses to eat all those cookies. There doesn’t seem to be a corresponding thesis for how long it takes him to read all the letters to him, but Po Lin Lee might qualify as at least for fill-in duty should the jolly old elf be waylaid by a traffic cop or too much cholesterol.
The Hong Kong native now living in Longyearbyen estimates as many as 10,000 letters were deposited this year in the “world’s largest Santa’s mailbox” she donated to the city during the 2013 Christmas season.
“I read them all,” she said. But “they’re in different languages. Then I try to use Google Translate and ask friends.”
Lee said she tries to spend an hour or two a day reading the letters when she’s in town, sometimes in the mailbox itself since it has two indoor stories including a sitting area.
The letter writers vary predictably by season: lots of visitors during peak tourism months (she estimates about 4,000 were deposited this summer) and lots of local youths when Christmas is near. Among this week’s batch was a large envelope containing a packet of letters that apparently are from a group of local kindergarten students apparently covering their bets after depositing letters in Santa’s “official” mailbox at the base of Mine 2B days earlier.
The mailbox at Sjøområdet, built in secret in a warehouse before being unveiled, is more than nine meters high and cost about 500,000 kroner – which Lee paid for out of her pocket.