New Holiday Stamps

The United States Postal Service has issued new stamps for the holiday season while keeping many of the wonderful stamps from previous years. The two newest holiday stamps are Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Christmas Magi.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was issued on November 6, 2014 and is a Forever Stamp, currently at $0.49. The description is as follows:

On the evening of December 6, 1964, families sat down to watch a new TV show for the first time: an animated special called Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It featured the voice of Burl Ives as Sam, a singing snowman, who narrates the tale of a misfit reindeer who finds his own special way to shine. The hour-long show went on to become not only the longest-running and highest-rated Christmas special in TV history, but also a beloved holiday tradition.

Rudolph and his friends now bring their own brand of joy and nostalgia to four holiday stamps. The stamp artwork features still frames from the special, which was produced by Rankin/Bass using stop-motion animation. In this type of production, moveable models are photographed against backgrounds, giving the images their distinctive look. Rudolph, Santa, and the Abominable Snow Monster all star on stamps of their own, while a fourth stamp features Hermey, the elf who dreams of becoming a dentist, touching Rudolph’s glowing red nose.

In order to create the special, new characters (including the Abominable Snow Monster and Hermey) were added to those featured in the poem written by Robert L. May and the song written by Johnny Marks.

In addition to the Rudolph song, the special also contains five of composer Johnny Marks’s previous songs and seven new songs that include “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Silver and Gold,” “Jingle, Jingle, Jingle,” “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year,” “There’s Always Tomorrow” and “We’re a Couple of Misfits.”

And as for Rudolph, the star of the show? As the millions of fans of the classic animated special know, he went down in history!

The other new holiday stamp is Christmas Magi. It was issued on November 19, 2014 and is also a Forever Stamp, currently at $0.49. The description is as follows:

The U.S. Postal Service® celebrates one of the most beloved stories of the Nativity with an evocative and elegant new stamp, Christmas Magi.

The stamp art illustrates the traditional tale of the Magi, who came bearing gifts for Jesus. The three regal figures sit atop a trio of bedecked and harnessed camels, the animals almost at the summit of a small hill. Guiding them is a large, dazzling star shining in the sky. The colors in the sky range from a rose near the horizon, darkening to a rich purple at the top, suggesting that the travelers are moving through the desert at dawn. The figures are silhouetted against the background, with the details of their headdresses and the camels’ saddles just visible in the brightening light. The star, located in the upper left-hand corner of the picture, is a brilliant white.

The story of the Magi appears in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2. There is little detail about the Magi in the Gospel. Matthew called them “Magi,” a term for Persian priests, astrologers, or scholars. The Gospel never refers to a specific number; the number three was likely influenced by the number of gifts left for the child-gold, frankincense, and myrrh. However, the earliest traditions are inconsistent with regard to how many Magi there were. The Eastern tradition favored twelve Magi, while in the West, several early Church fathers accepted the number three.

Over the centuries other details have been added to the story, including the names of the Magi: Gaspar, or Casper; Melchior; and Balthasar. One early reference to their names comes in a seventh century work attributed to St. Bede. He gave the Magi the attributes of men at different stages of life, elderly, young, and middle-aged: Melchior, an old man with white hair and a long beard; Caspar, young and beardless with a ruddy complexion; and Balthasar, with black skin and a heavy beard. Later traditions added the notion that the three came from Europe, Asia, and Africa, thus completing their symbolism as representatives of the world as it was known to Europeans at the time.

Represented in art and music since the earliest centuries of the church, the Magi are a much-loved part of the Christmas tradition. The story is retold many times each season in hymns and in Christmas pageants and performances.

These along with other holiday stamps are available now at your local United States Postal Service or usps.com!

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