Dear Santa... New book reveals strange requests to Father Christmas

Some of the hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Father Christmas each year have been published in a new book which reveals that, far from being selfish demands, many Christmas wishes are generous and heart-wrenching and, frequently, funny.

Previously stored by the Norwegian postal service – the north of the country is known as "Norwegian Lapland" and believed to be home to Mr and Mrs Claus – a selection of the letters is published in Dear Santa by Birger Sivertsen this month.

And there are some surprises. As well as the computer games, expensive toys and televisions that many children ask for, the requests range from wishes that fractured families be repaired, to letters from hard-up single mums hoping for presents for their kids, and amusing questions about Santa's lifestyle.

The letters come from all over the world, and reveal some surprising cultural differences. "Norwegian children ask for 30 or 40 gifts, they send whole catalogues too, saying they want everything except the things in pink," Mr Sivertsen said. "British children are the kindest to Santa, giving him whisky and saying they are concerned about his journeys.

"A lot of adults believe that Santa exists. For grown-ups he is a religious, god-like figure. In Japan it is almost obligatory to send a letter in English as a way of showing that you are educated."

Dear Santa,

I write this to ask you if you can do something for me. I'm a single parent with two boys aged 10 and 11, and we live with my parents. Unfortunately I'm not capable of giving them any of the things they want for Christmas – and I've never known where to write for help before. Therefore I sincerely, utterly, strongly hope that you can give them some of the things they want in the letter they write to you. I would be so happy, so glad, if any of their wishes can come true. The boys have been disappointed and frustrated for many years, and they are really nice boys, believe me. I assume that you don't get a lot of letters from parents like me, and hope that you don't think that I'm stupid for writing this to you. I thank you very much, and wish you a good and merry Christmas.

Big hug from Amanela, England

Caro Babbo Natale,

I wish for a baby next summer!

Greetings from Sofia, Italy

Dear Santa Claus,

Mom and dad say that you won't come if I swear, is that true? If so, why are you allergic to swearing?

Regards, Wictor, Bulgaria

Mr Santa Claus,

Me and my entire family will be deeply end eternally grateful if you can send us a visa for a good country to live in plus plane tickets and some money for food. Preferably in Scandinavia. I hope you'll be able to personally assist us for a couple of weeks so we can find a house and some jobs.

Best regards, P.T., Ethiopia

Dear Mr Santa,

How old are you? Why do you only wear red and white clothes?

Love, Mika, Japan

Dear Santa Claus,

I'm not allowed to be home on Christmas Eve. Could you please send some gifts on Friday 29th instead, because then I'm home with my mother again and we'll celebrate Christmas?

Love, Elida, Norway

Dear Santa,

My name is Kumiko, and I'm from Japan. I'm 18 years old, but I don't have a girlfriend. I'm very lonely. That's why I write to you. I'll probably be alone this year too. I hope to have a wonderful Christmas.

From Kumiko, Japan

Dear Santa,

We live in a poor hamlet, and mama and papa don't have money for Christmas presents this year either. Therefore I wish that my siblings and I will have just a tiny mini present from you. Just a small one.

Best regards, Danid, Russia

Dear Santa Claus,

I wish to have my dad back who died last summer.

Yours, Akis, Greece

Dear Santa Claus,

Do you hibernate in the winter, or do you snore like a man?

From Steve, Greece

Dear Santa Claus,

Do you belong to your own race or are you a human being? If you're not a human being, can you write to me and tell about your race?

Many greetings from Phillip, Germany

Mr Santa Claus,

I want to become a good mother, I want my son to become the smartest guy in his school, and I want him to get accepted at Tamara High School. Please help us. I also hope that a world war will never happen again, and I hope that the war in Iraq will end soon, Thanks a lot!

From Chiyko, Japan

Santa Claus,

I know that I haven't been nice this year, but I promise to be nice next year. So would it be all right to give me something in advance?

Regards, Jose, Spain

Caro Babbo Natale,

I wish for my daddy to stop dyeing his hair, it looks really phony. If you do the same, I'll say: Get out!

Sincerely, Claudia, Italy

Dear Santa,

I wish for a dog that has a much bigger head than body.

Love, Irina, Poland

Dear Santa Claus,

Mum says that I'm too young to have a cellphone, but I'm actually nine. If I get it from you, she can't say anything. Therefore it's my greatest wish.

Love, Carina, Sweden

PS: Preferably a Nokia

Cher Père Noël,

Why is it only you who go out in the world and deliver presents? Why doesn't your wife help? Is she afraid of heights, perhaps?

Love, Rémi, Belgium

Dear Santa,

Could you shave this Christmas so we can see what you really look like under the beard?

Thank you in advance.

Love, Ute, Germany.