In the small town of Engelskirchen, thousands of letters from around the world arrive at a seasonal Christmas post office, all addressed to one person.
For over 20 years, postal workers have written back.
It's a tradition for young children around the world to send letters to Santa Claus with their wishes for Christmas.
German children, however, practice a slightly different tradition. They often send letters to the Christkind, who is responsible for bringing the presents on Christmas.
The Christkind is a symbolic representation of the Christmas spirit that is often depicted as a Christmas angel.
Many of those letters land in a small town in western Germany called Engelskirchen. Translated, the town's name means "Angels' Church" - a fitting name for the seasonal home of a Christmas post office.
The tradition started in 1985, when other post offices around Germany weren't sure what to do with letters addressed to the Christkind.
"Since Engelskirchen was such a nice name, they ended up just sending them there," said Britta Toellner, a spokeswoman for Germany's mail carrier Deutsche Post. "And at the time, there was a manager here who opened the letters and saw that they were Christmas lists, so just for fun, she answered a few."
Before long, a few turned into many, as mountains of letters started arriving in Engelskirchen.
The postal workers started taking letters home with them to write responses to children hoping to hear from the Christkind. But at some point, it got to be too much to handle as a side project.
"We were getting so many letters from all corners of the earth that we decided to get organized," Toeller said. "During the holidays, we rent an office and have up to 12 helpers who answer the thousands of letters that come every day."
Last year, 145,000 letters were sent to the Christmas post office in Engelskirchen, and the number is expected to grow this year. Most of the letters are classic Christmas wish lists, with requests ranging from toys to companionship in the form of pets or siblings.
Do you like to send a letter too?
Here the Address:
An das Christkind
In order to receive a timely response your letter has to arrive in Engelskirchen the latest 3 days before Christmas. Knowing how slow Italian post is I would recommend sending it rather sooner ;-)
Also, don’t forget to write down your address on the letter or envelope, so the “Christkind” knows where to send the reply to.
We wish you lots of fun!
Text by Guenther Birkenstock, Photos by Deutsche Post AG