Red-suited frontman for Finland's Santa village calls for Christmas love

ROVANIEMI, Finland (Reuters) - A red-suited frontman for Santa Claus village in Lapland has asked people to “share the compassion and the love of Christmas” this year.

His speech on Monday was part of the Christmas build up at the Arctic village in northern Finland that has hosted some 160,000 visitors this year. Tourists from Asia made up the largest contingent.

The village receives half a million letters each year from children following a tradition of writing to Santa to ask him to deliver specific gifts by sleigh on the night before Christmas as a reward for being good during the year.

“We sort all the letters. We open the letters and give their wish list to Santa Claus,” said Katja, who was dressed as an elf as part of her job. Most of the letters this year came from China, followed by Poland and Italy, she said.

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg