Christmas is a festival full of celebrations and a time for children to write letters to Santa Claus. But do you know that nations have actually issued commemorative stamps for Christmas? These are regular postage stamps and are valid for postage purposes throughout the year. The sale of these stamps starts between early October and continues till December.
These stamps are normal-sized and offered in one or many denominations to cover domestic and international rates. Christmas stamps are used by many to send Christmas cards to friends and relatives. They add a decorative and festive touch to the letter. Many philatelists also use these stamps as a popular theme for their stamp collections. The Christmas Philatelic Club was formed in 1969 by Christmas stamp collectors and has issued its bimonthly journal, the Yule Log, since then.
- It is believed that Canada issued the first Christmas stamp in 1898. It has an inscription of 'XMAS 1898' at the bottom.
- In 1937, Austria issued two Christmas greeting stamps featuring a rose and zodiac signs.
- In 1939, Brazil issued four semi-postal stamps with designs featuring the three kings and a star, an angel and child, the Southern Cross and a child and a mother and child. A semi-postal stamp is a postage stamp issued to raise money for a cause. It is sold at a price higher than that which is mentioned on the stamp.
- In 1941, Hungary issued a semi-postal. The first stamps to depict the Nativity were part of the Hungary issue of 1943. The next Christmas stamps did not appear until 1951.
- After that, Cuba issued designs with poinsettias and bells, followed by Haiti in 1954. In 1955, Luxembourg and Spain issued some more stamps followed by Australia, Korea and Liechtenstein in 1957.
- Christmas stamps then became a tradition and other nations took up the practice during the 1960s.
- By the 1990s, approximately 160 postal administrations were issuing Christmas stamps, mostly on an annual basis.