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Christmas and Postage Stamps - A commemorative journey through Past and Present ....

Sunday, 25 December 2011

With the festive season well and truly upon us, we thought it would be a merry idea to spruce up the occasion with a post on the role of postage stamps throughout the world on the eve of Christmas.

             The first ever postage stamp that can somewhat be associated with Christmas was published by the Postal Department of Canada in 1898. Although, according to many this wasn't exactly what is known as 'Christmas Stamp'. The reason put forward was, the stamp didn't have any picture or art related to Christmas but merely a  'XMAS 1898' printed on it.

           In 1971, two postage stamps published by America took the world by surprise. It was a painting by the Italian painter of the Renaissance, Giorgione, in about 1500. It is displayed in the National Gallery of Art of Washington, D.C., United States.

               From then onwards, it became a practice to publish Christmas stamps, i.e., stamps having a Christmas flavour every year. These stamps encompassed everything related to Christmas. Rituals that are performed, the celebration that follows, the festive binge, prayer, church, Santa Claus, Christmas Tree and others have all found their place. The arrival of Jesus Christ is picturised from different angles and views. Sometimes as a new born with a halo around him and in others the Holy Family, Jesus with Mother Mary and Father Joseph. The stamps are an attempt to celebrate the festive spirit, that also get 'stamped' on the pages of history !

               In 1816, the famous Christian Carol, "Silent Night, Holy Night" were written in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, by the priest Father Joseph Mohr. The carol was first performed in St. Nicholas Church in Austria, on December 24, 1818. Today the Carol has been translated in almost all the languages and is sung in all it's glory all over the world.

The picturisation of the carol can be seen in the three postage stamps published by New Zealand Postal Department in 1985.

               In 1977, a postage stamp published in Australia showed Santa Claus riding a surfboard !!

This might sound a bit strange, as the image of Santa embedded in our mind is that him riding a sleigh, pulled by eight reindeer, gliding over the snowy slopes of North Pole. But to be true, it is quite apt from Australia's perspective. While most of the world will shiver in cold during Christmas, Australia will have bright and sunny summer due to different geographical position.


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