Children sending letters to Santa this year have to pay up. In previous years, Irish tots sending missives to the North Pole were told there was "no need for a stamp," but due to the recession, things have changed.

An Post, the Irish postal service, is "encouraging" children to use stamps to teach them "the art of letter writing" and because of the "economic times we're in."

“Even Santa knows there’s a recession,” An Post said. “Putting a stamp on will be appreciated, although it is not obligatory. Santa will write back regardless of whether there is a stamp on the original letter. It’s a request, not a demand.”

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Last week Santa wrote a letter to national newspapers telling children to stick a stamp on it.

“Stick a 55c stamp on the top right-hand corner, and pop it in the nearest postbox,” wrote Claus.

Kris Kringle has changed his tune from just a couple of years ago.

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“There’s no need for a stamp, but if they have one handy, they can feel free to stick one on,” he wrote two years ago. “The kind people at An Post have been helping with my replies for more than 20 years, despite it being their busiest time of year.”

An Post sends around 130,000 letters to Santa from Irish children every year. The Irish Times reports that volunteer staff help with the letters, although Rehab also is involved.

The company, which has not increased the price of the basic stamp in six years, said that there were other ways for children to write to Santa and get a response, including online platforms which charge a fee.