The Postal Service has a long history of celebrating holiday-themed stamps. Following is a description of those available for 2013.
Christmas: Holy Family Forever Stamp
First issued in 2012, the Holy Family Forever stamp celebrates Christmas with a scene from the Nativity story as a reminder of the joys of the season: family, togetherness and the birth of the baby Jesus. It continues the U.S. Postal Service’s tradition of issuing beautiful and timeless Christmas stamps and will be a treasured addition to cards and letters sent during this season of goodwill and sharing. Click this link to purchase these Christmas stamps in sheets of 20.
Christmas: Virgin and Child by Jan Gossaert Forever Stamp
The new Virgin and Child Christmas stamp by Jan Gossaert features a detail of Gossaert’s 1531 oil-on-wood painting, Virgin and Child, from the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Great for mailing Christmas cards and letters, the Christmas stamps are available in booklets of 20.
Draped in purple and blue, the Virgin Mary supports her head by leaning on one of her hands. According to art historians, this pose was an unusual way to depict the Virgin Mary in Gossaert’s time and may have been meant to evoke both sadness and contemplation by reminding viewers of earlier artistic depictions of ancient scholars, St. Joseph in Nativity scenes or mourners at the Crucifixion.
Supported by the Virgin Mary’s other hand, a curly-haired infant Jesus loosely draped in a white cloth looks to the viewer’s right and holds a bunch of red currants, which scholars have interpreted as foreshadowing Christ’s future suffering.
This is the second time a Gossaert painting has appeared on a U.S. stamp. In 2002, the U.S. Postal Service issued a Christmas stamp that featured a detail of Gossaert’s circa-1520 oil-on-panel Madonna and Child. Click this link to purchase the stamps.
Eid Forever Stamp
Featuring calligraphy from the 2011 Eid stamp with a new green background, this version commemorates the two most important festivals — or eids — in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. On these days, Muslims wish each other Eid Mubarak, the phrase shown in calligraphy on the stamp. Eid Mubarak translates literally as “blessed festival” and can be paraphrased “May your religious holiday be blessed.”
In 2013, Eid al-Fitr was celebrated Aug. 8, and Eid al-Adha Oct. 15.
The U.S. Postal Service issued its first Eid stamp, with gold calligraphy against a blue background, Sept. 1, 2001. A new Eid stamp with gold calligraphy against a reddish background debuted Aug. 12, 2011. Click this link to purchase these stamps issued in sheets of 20.
Gingerbread Houses Forever Stamps
Great for mailing Christmas cards and letters, these new holiday Forever stamps sheet feature four different gingerbread houses set against a bright blue background. The gingerbread houses pictured in the stamp are decorated with sugary fruit slices for shingles, peppermint sticks for support beams and round, candy-coated chocolate doorknobs and holly berries. Click this link to purchase the stamps issued in booklets of 20.
Global Forever Evergreen Wreath International Stamp
The $1.10 international 1-ounce letter price stamp’s shape is round with the wreath centered on a white background. The text surrounding the stamp includes the word “Global” highlighted in red. The words “Forever” and “USA” are in gray.
The wreath was created specifically for the stamp. Its base is composed of a wire metal frame folded around styrofoam, which was spray-painted green. The designer attached each evergreen twig to a pick — a small stick sharpened at one end. He inserted the picks into the base, rotating them to make the wreath full and lush, a process that took more than eight hours. The decorations are clusters of bright red Nandina berries and pinecones. Topping the wreath is a traditional red bow with its tails draping down into the center of the evergreens. Click this link to purchase the stamps issued sheets of 10.
Hanukkah Forever Stamp
The Hanukkah stamp art is a photograph of a contemporary forged-iron menorah created by blacksmith Steven Bronstein of Marshfield, VT. Nine lighted white beeswax candles top the branches. “Hanukkah” (the Hebrew word for “dedication”) is spelled out across the top of the stamp in yellow letters.
Celebrated by Jews around the world, Hanukkah, the joyous Festival of Lights, spans eight nights and days of remembrance and ritual. In 2013, Hanukkah began at sundown Nov. 27. Click this link to purchase the stamps in sheets of 20.
Kwanzaa Forever Stamp
This new stamp design celebrates the annual non-religious holiday of Kwanzaa, which takes place over seven days from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Kwanzaa derives its name from the phrase “first fruits” in Swahili, a widely spoken African language. Created in 1966, the holiday honors African-American family, community, and culture.
The stamp art features a stylized depiction of a man, woman and child dressed in traditional, African-inspired clothing joined together in a unifying embrace. The seven candles, known as the mishumaa saba, are a centerpiece of the Kwanzaa table. An open book symbolizes the holiday's emphasis on knowledge and cultural history. The bold colors in the stamp art represent the colors of the Kwanzaa flag — green for growth, red for blood and black for the African people.
The first Kwanzaa commemorative stamp was issued in 1997. New designs were issued in 2004, 2009 and 2011. Click this link to purchase the stamps in sheets of 20.
Poinsettia Forever Stamps
The U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of issuing beautiful and classic holiday stamps with Poinsettia, a bright, cheerful rendering of America’s favorite holiday flower. The stamp art depicts the rich red and vibrant green leaves surrounding the flower — the cluster of small, rather modest cup-shaped structures in the center. The red “petals” that we think of as the flower are actually modified leaves called bracts.
The Poinsettia Forever stamps are available in booklets of 20 stamps. Click this link to buy the stamps. The stamps are also are available in ATMs in booklets of 18.
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