Three sets, five stamps dress up festive holiday mail
By Jesse Robitaille
For 55 years, Canada Post has issued themed stamps to adorn holiday mail. This year, the Crown corporation continued the tradition with two sets issued on Nov. 4. The festive designs include a traditional Christmas stamp focusing on the Magi plus a “shiny-and-bright” secular holiday trio.
“Wishing you the best of the holidays, and happy collecting in the new year,” writes Jim Phillips, director of stamp services, in the November issue of Canada Post’s Details magazine.
Available in booklets of 12 stamps, this year’s Christmas stamp explores the story of the Magi, the wise men who are said to have followed a brilliant star to Bethlehem bringing gifts for a newborn king.
The Gospel According to Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, recounts the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem after they followed a star heralding the birth of a king.
Designed by Vancouver’s Subplot Design, the stamp celebrates the Magi’s long journey; their discovery of the infant Jesus; their offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh; and their deep belief in the importance of his birth.
Designed by Liz Wurzinger and Timothy King and illustrated by Michael Little, the stamp is a simple two-colour palette.
“Michael’s skill was essential to finding the right balance between fine detail and the larger picture,” says Wurzinger. “This stamp captures the essence of the journey – one that anticipates the wonder, awe and expectation of the Christmas season.”
A total of 500,000 booklets of 12 stamps were printed by Lowe-Martin using three-colour lithography. Each stamp measures 30 millimetres by 23 millimetres.
The look is echoed on 6,500 official first-day covers (OFDC), which feature the shepherds from the Nativity story in the Gospel of Luke. The OFDCs’ cancel location, King City, Ont., is an allusion to the Magi, who are also known as the “Three Kings.”
‘SHINY & BRIGHT’
The second holiday issue, “Shiny and Bright,” was designed and illustrated by London, Ont.-based artist Andrew Lewis.
Influenced by festive cards of years gone by, the stamps’ designs depict classic holiday images of a reindeer (Permanent domestic rate), dancers (U.S. rate) and a partridge in a pear tree (international rate).
Lewis’ inspiration for the luminous set came from fond childhood memories of opening holiday cards from overseas relatives.
“I found the card illustrations charming, and the stamp designs captured the true essence of the holidays,” adds Lewis. “Those lovely memories embody the emotions I still feel about sending warm greetings to those near or far. My illustrations are simply about the illumination of light and love, which is, in my heart, what the holidays are all about.”
The Shiny and Bright set includes:
- 800,000 booklets of 12 Permanent domestic-rate stamps;
- 300,000 booklets of six $1.27 U.S.-rate stamps;
- 310,000 booklets of six $2.65 international-rate stamps; and
- 70,000 three-stamp souvenir sheets featuring each of the three rates.
Each format was printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company using four-colour lithography.
A total of 6,500 three-stamp souvenir sheet OFDCs were also serviced with a Val-Brilliant, Qué. cancel to reflect the set’s theme.
Released today, the final issue of 2019 celebrates Canada’s rich cultural diversity through the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
This year, the annual eight-day “Festival of Lights” takes place from nightfall on Dec. 22 to nightfall on Dec. 30. Beginning on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabees’ triumphant fight for religious freedom.
The Temple’s menorah – a sacred candelabra – was required to burn continuously; however, only a day’s worth of oil remained after the battle. Miraculously, that small amount kept the light aglow until the oil supply was replenished eight days later.
The Hanukkah stamp’s design explores the relationship of light and darkness for a fresh interpretation of the holiday’s colours, according to designer Lionel Gadoury, of Context Creative. Combining a stylized menorah with layered details, patterned and nuanced hues – from bright yellow to deep magenta and purple – the intent is to evoke a sense of reflection and contemplation.
“It’s hard to believe that another year has almost come and gone,” writes Phillips in the recent issue of Details.
“Right now, we’re finalizing some stamp issues for 2020, and we’re well on our way to creating an amazing 2021 stamp program.”
Some of the first-quarter issues of next year’s stamp program, which was covered in CSN Vol. 44 #12 (Oct. 1-14), include:
- the third set of the “From Far and Wide” series;
- the 12th and final issue of the second “Lunar New Year” series, with a “Rat’s Wedding” theme;
- a Black History Month set commemorating the “Colored Hockey Championship” based in the Maritimes; and
- a continuation of the “Flowers” series with a set featuring dahlias.
Other themes coming to the 2020 stamp program include:
- the 75th anniversary of V-E Day and the Canadians who contributed to the Allied victory in Europe;
- Canadian radio history;
- the 100th anniversary of the Group of Seven;
- two legends of Canadian ballet;
- the history, culture and contributions of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis;
- vintage travel posters;
- medical groundbreakers;
- First World War artist Mary Riter Hamilton;
- the Canada Post Community Foundation semi-postal issue;
- Eid, Diwali and Hanukkah; and
- Christmas and holiday issues featuring traditional scenes of the Nativity plus the colourful folk art of Nova Scotia’s Maud Lewis.
For more information, visit canadapost.ca.