Celebrate the Holidays with New Stamps

It’s only October, but the holidays are right around the corner. The Postal Service has an exciting lineup of holiday stamps that will be available soon. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the things we have in store.

The Poinsettia Forever® stamp will be released this Thursday, October 10, at the ASDA National Postage Stamp Show in New York City. The vibrant issuance depicts the rich red and deep green leaves surrounding the flower.

poinsettiaOn Friday, October 11, two more holiday stamps will be released at the ASDA stamp show. One is the Virgin and Child by Jan Gossaert Forever® stamp, which features Gossaert’s 1531 painting Virgin and Child.
VirginandChildStampThe other is the Holy Family Forever® stamp, which features an illustration showing Joseph leading a donkey that carries Mary and Jesus, guided by a star shining in the twilight of a desert sky.
Holy FamilyThe Global Forever®: Evergreen Wreath stamp will be released on October 24. This international rate stamp offers a single price for any First-Class Mail International® 1-ounce letter to any country in the world.
EvergreenWreath-Forever-Single-BGv1And that’s not all. New issuances slated to be released later this fall include new Hanukkah and Kwanzaa Forever® stamps, in addition to the awesome new Gingerbread Houses Forever® stamps. Check back soon for more details! GingerbreadHousesmaller

Announcing New Hanukkah & Kwanzaa Stamps for 2013

This year the U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of celebrating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa with two new Forever® stamps.

PairCelebrated by Jews around the world, Hanukkah, the joyous Festival of Lights, spans eight nights and days of remembrance and ritual. Observance begins on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, a date that falls in late November or December. In 2013, Hanukkah begins at sundown on November 27.

The annual nonreligious holiday of Kwanzaa takes place over seven days from December 26 to January 1, brings family, community, and culture together for many African Americans.

What do you think of the new stamps? Both will be released later this year; stay tuned for more details.

A Happy Hanukkah Contest Just for You!

Spanning eight days and nights, the joyous yearly festival of Hanukkah commemorates the successful revolt of the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, against the oppressive government of Antiochus IV Hanukkah-Forever-single-v2and the Seleucid Empire in 165 B.C. Tradition relates how a miracle took place during the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem: The remaining supply of sacramental oil, thought to be enough for only one day, burned for eight days.

During Hanukkah, families gather at night to light candles on a special candleholder called a menorah. Other Hanukkah traditions include singing, the exchange of gifts, and the spinning of the dreidel, a four-sided top. Children typically use chocolate coins to make bets on the outcome of each spin of the dreidel.

The 2011 Hanukkah Digital Color Postmark Keepsake is still available. Click image for info.

The 2011 Hanukkah Digital Color Postmark Keepsake is still available. Click image for info.

The stamp above, first issued in 2011 and still available for purchase, is the fourth stamp design issued by the U.S. Postal Service in celebration of Hanukkah. USPS issued its first Hanukkah stamp, a stylized illustration of a menorah, in 1996. A design featuring an ornate dreidel followed in 2004, and a photograph of a menorah with nine lit candles was first released in 2009.

The eight days and nights of Hanukkah begin on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, a date that falls in late November or December. This year, Hanukkah begins today, December 8! And we are celebrating with a little contest. All you have to do to enter is answer the following question correctly:

“Hanukkah” is the Hebrew word for what?

Send your answers to us at uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com. Three grand-prize winners will be selected at random from those with the correct answer to receive a complete set of four collectible ceremony programs, one for each of the Hanukkah stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service. Five other people will receive one randomly selected Hanukkah ceremony program. The deadline for entries is midnight, Sunday, December 16. All winners will be notified by email.

Good luck!

Artist Spotlight: Suzanne Kleinwaks

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re recognizing some of the great female artists and designers who have contributed to the stamp creation process. This is the second in an occasional series of interviews.

In the ten years since she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Washington University in St. Louis, graphic designer Suzanne Kleinwaks has come a long way. Last year, she opened her own design firm, Suzanne Kleinwaks Design. Through her company, the Baltimore native has created designs for the World Food Program USA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Office on Women’s Health), and the Cancer Support Community.

Her first project for the U.S. Postal Service, the Hanukkah Forever® stamp, was released in 2011. (Ethel Kessler was the project’s art director. Kleinwaks was the designer and typographer.) Recently, Kleinwaks caught up with me via email.

Growing up, were you interested in art?

Yes, I have always been artistically inclined. My parents were supportive of my talents and helped create opportunities for me to develop, such as art summer programs and extracurricular programs. I explored many facets of art through school and these programs—painting, photography, sculpting…I got to try out a lot of mediums. I did not explore designing on the computer, however, until I got to college.

So how did you become interested in graphic design?

When it came to figuring what I would want to study in college, I knew I wanted to do something in the creative field. I started doing research on the communication aspects of art and design and decided to go that route. I ultimately attended Washington University in St. Louis where I got a BFA in visual communications. The more I have grown in my career, I am confident I made the best choice for myself—I love the challenge that comes with combining problem-solving and creativity.

How did you get involved with the Hanukkah stamp project?

Ethel Kessler and I had worked together, so she was very familiar with my work. When this opportunity came up, she asked if I was interested and I was thrilled!

What was your inspiration for this particular design?

I researched and explored a lot about Hanukkah and related imagery. When Ethel and I got down to deciding the focus, we decided that we wanted the stamp to reflect the joy of the holiday—hence the use of bright colors and movement. The cut-paper feel and colors mimic the movement of the dreidel—a children’s holiday game.

Was it pretty cool to mail your holiday cards and gifts with a stamp you designed?

It was awesome! I remember the first piece of mail that came in with it—I saved the envelope.

Did you enjoy working on this stamp?

I really enjoyed it. It’s fascinating to work on something that needs to communicate a big idea at such a small scale. It’s similar to logo design in that way (which I do a lot of in my business) because it needs to be able communicate your message clearly at a small size (or in the case of logos, multiple sizes and situations).

Happy Hanukkah!

At sundown tonight, Hanukkah—or the Festival of Lights, as it’s often called—will begin, as Jews around the world light the first candle on their menorahs, exchange gifts, spin dreidels, and participate in the merriment of this joyous holiday.

Hanukkah commemorates the successful revolt of the Jews led by Judah Maccabee against the oppressive government of Antiochus IV and the Seleucid Empire in 165 B.C.E.

Hebrew for “dedication,” the tradition of Hanukkah relates how a miracle took place during the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been desecrated. The remaining supply of sacramental oil, thought to be enough for only one day, burned for eight days.

The eight days and nights of Hanukkah begin on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, a date that falls in late November or December on the Gregorian calendar.

Since 1996, the Postal Service has issued four stamps celebrating Hanukkah. The Hanukkah stamp issued this year, conceived by art director Ethel Kessler and illustrated by artist Suzanne Kleinwaks, is the first to be released as a Forever® stamp. Each stamp features its own stylized understanding of the images important and iconic to the Jewish holiday and the merry spirit of the eight days and nights.

Happy Hanukkah!