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.