Christmas Trivia - Stamps

When and where were the first Christmas Stamps issued?

An 1898 Canadian stamp bears the legend "Xmas," but the primary purpose of the stamp was to commemorate a different event, and Canada's first stamp issued for Christmas mailings did not come until 1964.

In 1937, Austria issued "Christmas Greeting Stamps" featuring a rose and a zodiac sign.

In 1939, Brazil issued four stamps featuring tradition Christian symbols, such as three kings and a star.

The Nativity scene first appeared on a stamp in Hungary in 1943.

However, Christmas stamps were not otherwise seen during these decades.

The next Christmas to appear was in Cuba in 1951, featuring poinsettias and bells. Other countries to issue Christmas stamps in the 1950's included Haiti, Luxembourg, Spain, Australia, Korea, and Lichtenstein. Australia was the first to begin issuing Christmas stamps as an annual tradition.

The United States issued its first Christmas stamp in 1962 (pictured above), and the UK in 1966. That first US stamp sold one billion copies. The US Postal Service historian has provided a history of the US Christmas stamps, including a description of each Christmas stamp issued from 1962 through 2010. The first US stamp commemorating Hanukkah was issued in 1996,  Kwanzaa in 1997, and Eid al-Fitr in 2001.

Unlike Christmas stamps, Christmas Seals are not valid for postage, but may issued as a decorative element for Christmas card envelopes, and are sold to raise funds for specific causes. The first Christmas seal was issued in 2004 Denmark to help children with tuberculosis. In the US, Christmas Seals were first issued in 1908 by the National Tuberculosis Association, a predecessor of the American Lung Association, which trademarked the phrase "Christmas Seal" in 1987, and therefore is now the sole issuer of Christmas Seals in the United States.

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