Philatelic bureaus around the world have traditionally issued postage stamps designed to recognise and stimulate the surge in mail associated with the Christmas festive season in December and January. Here’s a sample of the designs being offered this year.
The Aland Islands Christmas stamp, designed by photographer Helene Schmitz, depicts a white hyacinth.
The Alderney Christmas stamp series, “Winter Wonderland”, was designed by The Potting Shed.
The Andorra Christmas stamps were issued by Correos, Spain.
The Argentina Christmas stamp, depicting the visit of the Magi, was issued by Correo Argentino.
The Ascension Island Christmas stamps, issued by the Ascension Island Post Office, designed by Julian Vasarhelyi, picks up the theme of Christmas Pantomimes.
The Australian Christmas collection, issued by Australia Post, was illustrated by Gavin Ryan and designed by Jo Muré.
The Austria collection, issued by Austria Post and designed by Adolf Tuma, features art from Vienna Cathedral Museum.
The Bahamas Christmas collection, from the Bahamas Post Office, features Christmas Angels watching over familiar scenes from the Nativity Story.
The Belarus collection, designed by Anna Romanovskaya, celebrate Christmas and New Year.
Bosnia and Herzegovina have a Christmas and New Year stamp, designed by Kristina Kramer.
The Brazil Christmas stamps, issued by Correios Brasil, illustrated by Jamile Costa Salum, are issued as a block of commemorative stamps portraying Christian symbols.
The Bulgaria Christmas stamp, designed by Yana Levieva, features a snowman.
The Canada Christmas stamps, issued by Canada Post and designed by Andrew Perro, depict the story of Jesus’ birth, as seen in the stained-glass windows of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Kingston, Ontario. A fourth stamp, designed by Hélène L’Heureux, brings together holly in a setting of scattered snowflakes.
The Christmas Island stamps, illustrated by Andrew Hopgood and designed by Jennifer Scalzo, feature Father Christmas pulling crackers and arriving on Christmas Island, surrounded by Christmas Island fauna and flora.
Croatian Post (Hrvatska pošta) has issued a Christmas stamp featuring falling snowflakes.
The Czech Republic Christmas stamp, issued by Ceska Posta, designed by Dušan Kállay and engraved by Miloš Ondráček, features a nativity scene.
The Denmark Christmas stamps, issued by Post Danmark, illustrated by Claus Bigum, feature elderly pedestrians with dog and goose.
The Eire Christmas stamps, one based on Jan de Beer’s painting The Flight into Egypt and two featuring Christmas tree decorations, were designed by Design Factory.
Estonia Christmas stamps, issued by Eesti Post, designed by Triin Heimann, feature a cherub and a Christmas tree bauble.
The Faroese Christmas stamps, issued by Faroese Post, celebrate the Faroese Christmas carol “Eg eri so spent til jola” (I can’t wait for Christmas to come), and Nordic Christmas carol “I rejoice every Christmas Eve”
The Finland Christmas Stamps, issued by Posti, were designed by Kaarina Toivanen.
La Poste in France has issued a book of twelve Christmas stamps featuring classic nativity paintings housed in France: Maître de Flémalle, “Adoration des bergers”, Georges de La Tour “Le Nouveau né”, Maître de Moulins “L’Adoration de l’Enfant Jésus”, Maître de la Nativité du Louvre, “La Nativité”, Ecole italienne “Adoration des mages”, Francisco de Zurbaran, “Adorations des mages”, Maître, “Triptyque de l’Adoration des mages”, Pierre Paul Rubens, “L’Adoration des mages”, Jean Fouquet, “La Nativité”, Mariotto di Nardo, “Scènes de la vie du Christ – Nativité”, Maître du Retable de Saint – Barthélémy, “Adoration de l’Enfant”, Mathias Stomer, “Adoration des bergers”.
Germany’s Christmas 2011 stamps, designed by Karen Scholz, feature St Nikolaus and St Martin, two saints traditionally associated with gift giving.
Gibraltar Post has issued a set of five Christmas stamps, designed by Stephen Perera, featuring nativity paintings by Charles Le Brun, Lorenzo Lotto, Agnolo di Cosimo (Il Bronzino), Gerard van Honthorst, and Giorgione.
The Greenland Christmas stamps, issued by POST Greenland, illustrated by Camilla Nielsen, feature two Strawberry Girls examining the Christmas star and carrying gifts on a Greenlandic dog sledge.
The Hungary Christmas stamps, issued by Magyar Posta, photographed by József Hajdú and designed by Eszter Domé, feature nativity scenes from the Nagykaracsony church and the Roman Catholic church in Vors.
The Iceland Christmas stamps, issued by Iceland Post, designed by Gudbjorg Ringsted, feature the craft of goldwork.
Japan Post has issued a series of stamps featuring illustrations dedicated to snow, winter and Christmas, designed by Satoshi Iriyama, Nakamaru Hitomi, Ken Black, Sonoko Arai.
Jersey Post has issued six stamps depicting Christmas tree decorations, designed by Colleen Corlett.
Philatelie Liechtenstein has issued a set of stamps featuring Christmas cribs from the parish church of St. Gallus, Triesen, the St. Florin parish church Vaduz crib, and the Parish church of the Assumption Bendern. The stamps were designed by Stephanie Keiser.
Luxembourg’s Christmas stamp, designed by Muriel Moritz, features a family seated around a festive table.
Malta Post has issued three Christmas stamps recreating traditional nativity paintings: “The Holy Family in an interior”, “The Madonna and Child with Infant Saint John the Baptist” and “The Rest on the Flight into Egypt”.
Monaco’s Christmas 2011 stamp, issued by the Office des Émissions de Timbres-Poste, features a Christmas creche scene.
The New Zealand Christmas stamps, designed by Karen Mounsey-Smith, highlight five key moments in the Nativity story.
The Niue Christmas 2011 stamp issue combines photographic scenery of Niue with the Star of Bethlehem, which appeared in the night sky upon the birth of the baby Jesus. The combination of these two elements signifies the importance of the Nativity to the stunning and untouched Pacific island of Niue.
The Norway Christmas stamps, issued by Posten, designed by Kristin Granli, feature children preparing for Christmas and opening parcels.
PhilPost’s “Pasko 2011″ Christmas stamps come in four designs: Christmas bells, poinsettias, Christmas gifts (cards, candy cane, teddy bear, wrapped boxes), and Christmas lantern.
The Pitcairn Islands Christmas stamps, designed by Karen Mounsey-Smith, features the visit of the Magi.
The Poland Christmas stamps, designed by Marek Kwiatkowski, feature a nativity scene and Mikolaj (Santa) on his sleigh.
The Romania Christmas stamp, available in a book of 9, features a 19-th century Madonna and child icon from the Orthodox church of Satu-Nou-Oltina (Constanta county), designed by Mihai Vamasescu.
Russia’s holiday season stamp features a Christmas decoration and a New Year greeting.
The Slovakia Christmas stamp, issued by Posta Slovenska, designed by Marianna Žálec Varcholová, features the early Christian symbol of the fish, prepared in traditional Slovak honey cake bakery.
Spain’s Christmas stamps include two traditional stamps, with Luisa Roldán sculpture of the Holy Family with the baby Jesus beginning to walk, and a neoclassical version of the Holy Family by painter J. Carrero.
Sweden’s Christmas stamps, issued by Posten, designed by Molly Bark, features four Christmas flowers, arranged by Gunnar Kaj.
Switzerland’s Christmas stamps, issued by La Poste, designed by Raphael Volery, feature a chapel, Christmas tree and chalet.
The Tokelau Christmas stamps feature the iconic Christmas tree, bauble, stocking and angel, set against a background depicting the tropical hibiscus flower.
UK Christmas stamps, issued by Royal Mail, feature images inspired by accounts of the Nativity from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.
US holiday stamps include a Christmas stamp featuring Raphael’s painting Madonna of the Candelabra by Raphael, Holiday Baubles deisgned by art director William J. Gicker and illustrator Linda Fountain, a Hanukkah stamp designed by art director Ethel Kessler and illustrator Suzanne Kleinwaks, and a Kwanzaa stamp designed by art director Derry Noyes.
The Correo Uruguayo Christmas 2011 stamp, designed by Maria Martinez, provides a Uruguayan version of Maria, gaucho (shepherd) and baby Jesus in Christmas crib.