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 each of the branches. “Hanukkah” (the Hebrew word for “dedication”) is spelled out across the top of the stamp in yellow letters. Art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, MD, designed the stamp. George E. Brown of Alexandria, VA, was the photographer.
Celebrated by Jews around the world, Hanukkah, the joyous Festival of Lights, spans eight nights and days of remembrance and ritual. The holiday commemorates the victory of the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, over the armies of Antiochus IV and the Seleucid Empire in 165 B.C.E.
Hanukkah is the Hebrew word for “dedication.” Tradition relates how a miracle took place during the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been desecrated. The sacramental oil, thought to be enough for only one day, burned for eight days.
The miracle of the oil is at the heart of the ritual of the lighting of the hanukiah, a menorah — candelabra — with nine branches, one for each of the eight nights and days of Hanukkah, and the ninth, the shamash or “the servant,” used to light the other candles. The hanukiah, used only at Hanukkah, is traditionally placed in the window of the home to proclaim the miracle to passersby.
After the lighting of the candles, family members might sing traditional songs and exchange gifts. Children play a game called dreidel. Competing for a pot of chocolate coins, nuts, pennies, or other prizes, each player takes turns spinning the dreidel, a four-sided top with letters on each side that form an acronym for the Hebrew saying “A great miracle happened there.” Depending on the outcome of the dreidel’s spin, the player either takes from or gives to the pot. The game ends when one player has won all the treats.
Feasting is an important part of the celebration as well. Foods associated with Hanukkah include latkes, potato cakes fried in oil; bimuelos, fried dough dipped in honey or sugar; and sufganiot, fried jelly doughnuts.
The eight nights and days of Hanukkah begin on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, a date that falls in late November or December. In 2013, Hanukkah begins at sundown Nov. 27.
PHILATELIC PRODUCT INFORMATION
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at local Post Offices, at The Postal Store website at usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:
380 W 33rd Street, Rm. 4032
New York, NY 10199-9998
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, the price is 5 cents each. Due to customer demand, the stamps first went on sale November 9. The Postal Service is extending the 60-day window for items to be postmarked to coincide with the Nov. 19 dedication ceremony by accepting items until Jan. 19, 2012.
The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at usps.com/shop or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:
U.S. Postal Service
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014
There are seven philatelic products available for this stamp issue:
583008, Press Sheet without Die Cuts, $73.60 (print quantity of 1,000).
583010, Keepsake (Pane & Digital Color Postmark Set), $10.95.
583016, First-Day Cover, $0.90.
583021, Digital Color Postmark, $1.61.
583030, Ceremony Program, $6.95.
583031, Stamp Deck Card, $0.95.
583032, Stamp Deck Card with Digital Color Postmark, $1.96.
For a great selection of stamps and related collectible products, please visit the official Postal Service Store on eBay at ebay.com/stamps.
STAMP DEDICATION CEREMONY INFORMATION
The dedication took place November 19 at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in New York City.
A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation: 152 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With more than 31,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $65 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world's mail. If it were a private-sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 42nd in the 2012 Fortune 500. The Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency for seven years and the fourth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.
SOCIAL MEDIAFollow the United States Postal Service on twitter.com/USPS and at facebook.com/USPS.