USPS Stamp Designs for the Winter Holidays

Hanukkah stamp, United States Postal Service
Christmas stamp, Madonna and Sleeping Child by Sassoferrato, United States Postal Service
This year, the United States Postal Service is getting into the spirit of the holiday season by issuing a series of 2009 Holiday Stamps, commemorating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Eid.

The 2009 Hanukkah stamp design features a photograph of a menorah with nine lit candles; it  is the third U.S. issuance to commemorate the holiday. The menorah was designed by Lisa Regan of the Garden Deva Sculpture Company in Oklahoma, and photographed by Ira Wexler of Maryland. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins Friday evening at sundown.

Since 1978, the theme of each “traditional” Christmas stamp has been the Madonna and Child. The 2009 Christmas stamp features Madonna and Sleeping Child, a painting by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi, (1609–1685), more commonly known as Sassoferrato. The painting depicted on the stamp shows a blonde Madonna clothed in red and cradling the sleeping Christ Child in purple cloth. From each of the two top corners, the childlike face of a cherub looks down from the clouds. The painting is currently in the collection of Hearst Castle in California.

Kwanzaa, a nonreligious holiday, takes place over seven days from December 26 to January 1. Kwanzaa draws on African traditions and takes its name from the phrase for “first fruits” in Swahili, a widely spoken African language. The Kwanzaa stamp is marked by a family grouping in bright green, red, gold and black. Stamp artist Lloyd McNeill of New York created the festive, highly symbolic design to celebrate the holiday.

The Eid stamp commemorates the two most important festivals — or eids – in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and features the Arabic phrase "Eid mubarak" in gold calligraphy on a blue background. Eid mubarak translates literally as "blessed festival," and can be paraphrased "May your religious holiday be blessed." The stamp was designed by calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya, working under the direction of Phil Jordan, both from Virginia.

The USPS has also released a series of secular 2009 Winter Holiday stamps, featuring a reindeer, snowman, gingerbread man and toy soldier.
[Image: 2009 Holiday Stamps released by the USPS, commemorating Hanukkah (left) and Christmas (right).]


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