Christmas Stamps

Christmas StampsChristmas stamps add color and festivity to the greetings that are sent to friends and family during the holiday season. They are usually printed and issued a couple of months before Christmas (October-November) and are in great demand during Christmas season. Though they depict scenes from the life of Christ and have images relating to Jesus, they are authentic postal stamps and can be used the year round. Though these stamps have been around for more than a hundred years there is a dispute about the earliest Christmas stamp and its origin.

Birth and early life of the stamp

Though now millions of Christmas stamps are issued around the world, the origin of the first Christmas stamp continues to be shrouded in mist. Nonetheless, the story that holds most water, even after more than 100 years of the stamp’s issue, is the story of the two cent Canada stamp issued in 1898. The stamp depicted the Mercator World map. (Gerhardus Mercator was the most notable geographer of his time, and his world map of 1569 won lasting fame.). Generally referred to as the ‘Map’ stamp or the ‘Imperial Penny Postage’ issue, the stamp gets credit for being the first ever Christmas stamp.

The next country to issue a Christmas related stamp was Austria. In 1937 Austria brought out two Christmas stamps and called them Christmas Greeting Stamps. In 1939, Brazil issued four semi-charity Christmas stamps with Hungary following closely and bringing out a stamp in 1941 depicting a soldier and emblem. Within a few years more and more countries followed the trend and now many countries around the world bring out Christmas stamps.

A controversy

Recently a controversy arose when a Christmas stamp depicting a Hindu couple (with forehead markings) worshipping baby Jesus was criticized as disrespectful but UK’s Royal Mail refused to withdraw it. The Hindu Forum of Britain has asked for it to be re-designed without the Hindu markings or withdrawn. Royal Mail, while apologetic, said it was not possible to amend or withdraw.

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