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.

Winter Holidays: Stocking Up on Stamps

It’s December 1 everyone, and the winter holidays are coming fast. Are you prepared? Well, we’re here all month to help you. Today let’s kick off the holiday season with some basics: stamps!

This year Hanukkah begins on December 20, and if you plan to send cards you have a few stamp options. The 2011 Hanukkah stamp was created by graphic designer Suzanne Kleinwaks. Bright colors express the joyful spirit of the holiday, and the eight shapes behind the letters spelling out “Hanukkah” symbolize the eight days and nights of the celebration. The 2010 Hanukkah stamp, which was first issued in 2009, features a photograph of a menorah with nine lit candles. The menorah was designed by Lisa Regan of the Garden Deva Sculpture Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and photographed by Ira Wexler. There are also two Custom Postage stamps available: Hanukkah Candles and Vintage Jewish Art.

Traditional Christmas stamps are popular, and this year there is quite a wonderful selection to choose from. The 2011 traditional Christmas stamp features a detail from a work by the Italian master Raphael, entitled Madonna of the Candelabra. This tondo (circular painting), oil on panel, dates to around 1513 and is now in the collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Also available is this stamp featuring Madonna and Sleeping Child, a painting by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi, more commonly known as Sassoferrato. The painting is currently in the collection of Hearst Castle in California. The original issuance of the stamp in 2009 coincided with the 400th anniversary of the birth of the artist. The 2010 Angel with Lute stamp features a detail of a fragment of a circa-1480 fresco by Melozzo da Forli. The original fresco fragment is now in Room IV of the Vatican Pinacoteca (art museum).

This year’s whimsical Christmas stamps, Holiday Baubles, feature four colorful ornaments created by illustrator Linda Fountain. Drawing on styles popular during the 1950s, she first sketched the ornaments then rendered them using cut paper. These renderings were scanned and turned into digital files. Or you might want to go for some fun custom postage stamps like Happy Holidays, Happy Winter Holidays, and Love in Winter, all of which also feature tree ornaments, or Happy Holidays Poinsettia, with a beautifully wrapped package.

Want something a bit more elegant for your cards this year? Try Elegant Season’s Greetings Custom Postage stamps or Silent Night Custom Postage stamps.

Other floral-theme holiday stamps include Holiday Evergreens, which feature close-up views of the foliage and cones of four different conifers: ponderosa pine, eastern red cedar, blue spruce, and balsam fir. The artist, the late Ned Seidler, was a gifted painter of nature subjects. Or you might like Holiday Flowers Custom Postage.

Throwing a party this year? Consider sending your invites with one of three Celebrate stamps. The 2011 Neon Celebrate! stamps will add an unexpected jolt of color to your holiday correspondence, as will the 2010 Celebrate! stamp. First issued in 2007, this stamps features 12 brightly colored blocks designed by artist Nicholas Wilton. The Celebrate! Custom Postage stamp features a seasonal palette of blues, white, and silver. And don’t forget to include the RSVP Pointsettia Custom Postage with your invitations.

Feeling the need for some Santa Claus? The Merry Christmas Custom Postage stamps may be just what you’re looking for. Or you might also like the Santa with Sack of Toys Custom Postage stamps. Both are really delightful!

Kwanzaa is a non-religious holiday that takes place over seven days beginning each year on December 26 and ending January 1. For the 2011 Kwanzaa stamp, artist Daniel Minter created a festive and highly symbolic design to illustrate a Kwanzaa holiday celebration. 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. These same colors are repeated in the candles that are lighted each night of the holiday. Minter’s focus is the family unit celebrating the holiday at home, an important element of Kwanzaa. The design was carved into a linoleum block, and then scanned into a computer where it was colorized. The 2009 Kwanzaa stamp (reissued in 2010) is also still available. You might also like the Happy Kwanzaa Custom Postage stamps.

And that’s it for stamps. Whew! Tomorrow Next week we’ll take a look at some holiday cards . . . some traditional, some not so traditional.

Spread the Joy . . . Forever

The Postal Service today issued two newly designed Forever stamps commemorating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa for mailing cards and letters during the upcoming holiday season.

“The U.S. Postal Service is proud to share the celebrations and traditions of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa with the people of the United States and the world,” said David Williams, vice president, Network Operations.

“We hope with these two new commemorative Forever stamps, we can spread the joy of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa on cards and letters across the nation this holiday season.”

Williams dedicated the stamps today at the American Stamp Dealers Association (ASDA) National Stamp Show. Joining Williams were: James E. Lee, president, ASDA; Wade E. Saadi, president, American Philatelic Society; Raschelle Parker, manager, Marketing, New York District, U.S. Postal Service; and Stephen Kearney, executive director, Stamp Services, U.S. Postal Service.

The eight days and nights of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begin on Dec. 20. During Hanukkah, family members gather each night during the festival 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 gelt (coins) to make bets on the outcome of each spin of the dreidel.

Art director Ethel Kessler worked with graphic designer Suzanne Kleinwaks of Falls Church, VA, to create the stamp art. Bright colors express the joyful spirit of the holiday, and the eight shapes behind the letters spelling out “Hanukkah” symbolize the eight days and nights of the celebration. The second “k” appears on the silhouette of a dreidel. Each of the letters in this design is subtly tilted to mimic the movement of the dreidel as it twirls.

The stamp design is the fourth U.S. issuance to commemorate Hanukkah. The Postal service 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.

Kwanzaa, a non-religious holiday, takes place over seven days beginning each year on Dec. 26 and ending Jan. 1. Art director Derry Noyes worked with artist Daniel Minter to create a festive and highly symbolic design to illustrate a Kwanzaa holiday celebration.

Kwanzaa draws on African traditions and takes its name from the phrase for “first fruits” in Swahili, a widely spoken African language. Its origins are in harvest celebrations that occurred in various places across the African continent in ancient and modern times. These traditions were synthesized and reinvented in 1966 by Maulana Karenga as the contemporary cultural festival known as Kwanzaa.

The holiday is intended to be a celebration of seven principles–unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith–based on values prevalanet in African culture.

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. These same colors are repeated in the candles that celebrants light each night of the holiday. Minter’s stamp art focuses on a family celebrating the holiday at home, an important element of Kwanzaa.

This is the fourth stamp design issued by the U.S. Postal Service in celebration of Kwanzaa. The first Kwanzaa commemorative stamp was issued in 1997. New designs also were issued in 2004 and 2009.

Both the Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stamps are being issued as Forever stamps, which makes them good for one-ounce First-Class Mail postage forever.

The stamps go on sale today at Post Office nationwide, online at The Postal Store, and by phone at 800-782-6724.