Friday, December 16, 2011

Romanian children, adults alike write a long wish-list to Santa Claus

By Associated Press
Friday, December 16, 7:06 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania — These days, Santa Claus could well feel nostalgic about the time when Romania was a Communist country and its governments frowned upon Christmas.


Because now that it’s a democracy and capitalistic, Romania is trying to set an all-time record for the world’s longest wish list for Father Christmas.

And while the gifts the kids want aren’t all that surprising, the adult requests include everything from a new husband and a 365-day holiday to a Nobel Prize.

Romania is a nation where many people still believe in witchcraft. So few were surprised when managers at a shopping mall recently conducted a survey and found that many Romanian adults believe in Santa as much as children do.

That prompted the Liberty Center mall in south Bucharest to begin trying to create the world’s longest wish-list letter to Santa, with handwritten requests from kids and grown-ups.

So far, the list is more than 60 meters (132 feet) long and growing by the day, with more than a 1,000 requests. The letter to Santa Claus started on Dec. 1 and it will close on Dec. 23.

On Thursday, giggling children paid Santa a visit in his brightly lit grotto at the Liberty Center mall and wrote their wishes on the giant letter.

Some, like 3-year-old Ana Maria Buradel, want a doll and sweets. The adults tend to be more ambitious.

One woman has asked for a new husband. “But I’m not sure whether she’s asking for a better husband or a new husband,” said John Houghton, the mall’s director.

“Another man would like a 365-day holiday. I think he needs to retire,” Houghton said.

The person seeking a Nobel Prize didn’t specify what category: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature or Peace.

Another request scrawled on the list Thursday was more specific and heartfelt.

“All I want for Christmas is for my baby boy to be operated on and for him to be OK,” said Ionela Buradel, her eyes welling up with tears.

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