Festivals and Flowers Usher in Second Quartet of 2018 US Holiday Stamps

Festivals and Flowers Usher in Second Quartet of 2018 US Holiday Stamps

On July 24, the United States Postal Service unveiled four more stamps for the 2018 holiday season, to be dedicated at first-day-of-issue events to be announced soon.

First of these is a Poinsettia Global Forever stamp that prepays a one-ounce letter to any country where First-Class Mail International service is available. As with all Global Forever stamps, this stamp will have a postage value equivalent to the price of the single-piece First-Class Mail International 1-ounce machineable letter in effect at the time of use (currently $1.15). These stamps can also be used domestically to prepay postal service of the same or lesser value..

The stamp features a view of a poinsettia from above, capturing the beauty of the green leaves, red bracts and yellow flowers in the center of this seasonal favorite. Poinsettias are now as much a part of the holidays as evergreens and mistletoe, with tens of millions sold annually.

The art director for this stamp was William J. Gicker, with design by Greg Breeding and a photograph by Betsy Pettet. The stamps will be issued in self-adhesive panes of 10.

A tradional holiday stamp at the domestic Forever rate depicts the Madonna and Child by Francesco d’Ubertino Verdi (1494–1557), the Florentine Italian Renaissance painter known as Bachiacca. This stamp features a detail of Bachiacca’s oil-and-gold-on-panel painting “Madonna and Child,” which dates from the early 1520s, showing the Christ child clutching a bouquet of jasmine, a symbol of divine love, alongside the Virgin Mary.

This painting is part of the Jack and Belle Linsky Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. William J. Gicker served as art director for this stamp, and Greg Breeding was the designer. Like all U.S. Forever stamps, it will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail single-ounce rate.

 

A new Forever-rate stamp celebrating the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah will be the U.S. contribution in a joint issue with Israel Post. Details of the Israeli stamp were not yet available when this report was compiled.

 

Hanukkah recalls the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C. Tradition relates that during that event, the Jews had only enough sacramental oil to light the Temple lamps for a single day, yet the lamps burned for eight full days. Celebrations marking this miracle include the ritual lighting 2of the nine-branched menorah used only during Hanukkah. Eight branches hold candles representing each of the eight nights and days of Hanukkah, and the ninth is used to light the other candles.

The stamp shows a menorah created using Jewish folk art papercutting techniques. Artist Tamar Fishman made a pencil sketch, then cut the two-dimensional image on white paper, highlighting the design by using blue-purple and green papers for the background. Outlining the menorah, a shape reminiscent of an ancient oil jug alludes to the Hanukkah miracle. Also included near the bottom of the stamp are two small dreidels — spinning tops used to play a children’s game during the holiday — and a stylized pomegranate plant with fruit and flowers. Art director Ethel Kessler was the designer.

A family-centered celebration, Hanukkah games, songs, gifts and food all contribute to making the holiday festive and fun for family and friends. Hanukkah begins on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, a date that falls in late November or December. In 2018, Hanukkah begins at sundown Dec 2.

The USPS also has announced its seventh Kwaanza stamp in the last 21 years. Kwanzaa takes place over seven days from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, celebrated by many African-Americans.

According to the USPS, “The stamp depicts a man, woman and child adorned in a mixture of western and traditional clothing, paying tribute to the holiday’s focus on the contemporary African-American experience, while also drawing on African roots. The family is gathered around a kinara (candleholder), the warm light from seven candles (mishumaa saba) illuminating their faces.”

Other important Kwanzaa symbols on the table include ears of corn (muhindi) and various fruits and vegetables (mazao); the unity cup (kikombe cha umoja); and the mkeka, (the straw mat on top of which everything is placed).

Created in 1966, Kwanzaa was conceived as a unifying holiday, drawing on African traditions, taking its name from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits.” With origins in Africa’s first-harvest festivities, Kwanzaa combines elements of many of these communal traditions in a contemporary celebration of African-American culture.

Artist Floyd Cooper worked with art director Derry Noyes, who designed the Forever-rate stamp.

A se-tenant issue of four “Sparkling Holidays” Forever-rate stamps depicting classic images of Santa Claus painted by famed commercial artist Haddon Sundblom was previously announced and featured on the APS Blog on June 26 (“US Postal Service to issue Iconic Santa Stamps“).


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StampShow/NTSS 2019

Omaha, Nebraska | August 1-4, 2019