First, the chimney was cleaned of soot and grease. “Baby Jesus must not get his feet dirty when he comes down on Christmas Eve”, said Grandma, getting tired between this task and observing the mass of coscorons resting in a clay pot. “But you can’t come into this house if you think you’ve behaved badly,” he added, making the waiting for the baby all the more painful. The scene is set in the 1970s, in the heart of downtown Bombalin, at a time and place when kitchens, which could have been huge, served as the workshop of all the wonders of Christmas. The place where sweet and savory dishes are cooked, but also the place where, on Christmas Eve at night, children, trembling with anxiety, left their stockings or slippers waiting to see the divine grace transformed into new toys.. Santa Claus began to appear, but through him, the adults explained, he was only expected to help the boy, who was too young for the task of jumping from roof to roof, and a suitcase full of dolls and tricycles on his back.
Portugal was for a long time one of the few European countries where the tradition of distributing gifts to children to Christ at the expense of the Magi is attributed (as is the case today in Spain and in many Spanish-speaking countries). Or Santa Claus himself, who only in the mid-1980s, among us, got the leading role we know today. A process similar to what happened in countries such as Germany, Hungary or Italy (where Santa Luzia, who celebrated on December 13, also played a role in this consecration). The Portuguese literature (abundance) in this court reflects, in fact, the role of the Child Jesus. From the traditional verses published in the ancient 1st grade reading book (“Baby Jesus is happy. / He goes down the chimneys. / And walks gently. / No one sees or feels it. / All children sleep (…) No shoes fit / Toys, Jesus! / Little ones are small.” Little feet / But leave the balls and the wagons / All that is beautiful and shiny”) but also Antonio Guedio or Mario de Sa Carneiro (“The little ones rejoice; / For they know that the good Jesus / He usually gives them beauty. / The little ones go to bed / But they don’t sleep even happily/ And only at ten o’clock do they sleep innocents”).
So the letters containing the children’s requests were addressed to the baby Jesus, who left them unanswered while waiting for Christmas morning. But in 1971, the newspaper port tradeAfter discovering that such letters were stamped with a “refusal” at the city post office, he decided that this year there would be a return of mail.
Once the voluminous correspondence had been collected, it was taken to a room and duly dealt with by the editorial staff, which informed the young readers, in the pages of the morning, of what was to happen “At this point in my years, de Céu they have no hands full, it is a great body of letters Which you have no idea about!… They come from all over the world!… They are messages in Portuguese, French, English and Chinese, you can imagine! In Chinese! I can answer everything at the same time, so I decided to bring some secretaries here and there And there, even…
– Don’t put it into account anymore, dear Jesus my heart, apparently a secretary, “here”… I just be me!? – Cut it short, it’s all absurd with joy. “
And the “secretary” began his cheerful work. In 1985 – 14 years after this initiative – CTT itself took charge of creating a service to respond to these children’s demands. But the country opened up to the world and the recipient was no longer the baby Jesus, but Santa Claus.
Filled with the hesitant spelling of a person learning his initials, these writings often get lost and also contain poetry and humor so characteristic of children. A few years ago, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera She published some of the best letters to Baby Jesus, which were received this Christmas at the Central Post Office in Rome. Some were happy, others quite the opposite, but there were also those who were wary of the recommendations addressed to the recipient. Like this one, full of knowledge from experience, which reads: “Baby Jesus, don’t buy gifts from the store in my building, mom says they’re thieves.”