Those who know me know that I absolutely love Christmastime. Because I live in a predominately Buddhist country, you might think that I don’t get to celebrate the season but you would be wrong. Christmas is a very popular holiday in Thailand and not just amongst the foreign tourists and expats. Each year seems to bring more public displays of trees and lights and inside some of the shopping malls you would be forgiven for believing you are back in London or New York or Albuquerque. About the only thing traditionally associated with the Yuletide that we don’t have are Nativity scenes (well, I have seen a few to tell the truth!). Oh, and I do miss the cold weather and snow…
One thing that I’ve always associated with the holiday season are postage stamps. Some of my earliest collecting activities involved saving some of the holiday stamps that arrived on the Christmas card envelopes. Having a birthday in December gave an additional opportunity for philatelic gifts and 1975 was a typical year. For my birthday, I received the H.E. Harris album for U.S. stamps (along with various goodies in the accompanying “Stamp Collector’s Kit”) and at Christmas I was given my first worldwide album (I believe it was called “World Traveller” plus the U.S. Postal Service’s folder of mint stamps issued that year. Back then, all of the year’s stamp issues fit on a single 8×10 stock card in a tri-fold folder! Now, it’s a large hardbound book. My sister also received the year set that year and, I believe, 1976 as well. This was the American Bicentennial and my parents tried to instill in us an interest in history through stamps. Her “”collection” didn’t last as long as mine.
To this day, one of my main thematic collections revolves around collecting Christmas stamps, particularly when they arrive on an envelope with an interesting pictorial postmark. Here, once again, I will make my appeal: please send me a card from your country with Christmas stamps affixed. You can email me for my mailing address and if you include yours I will send a New Year’s card in return.
In a week’s time, I will start my second annual blog series counting down the two weeks until Christmas Eve by illustrating some of the beautiful festive stamps released at this time of the year. Last year’s “Twelve Stamps of Christmas” highlighted holiday-themed stamps from many different years (the first to mention “Xmas” was issued by Canada in 1898 but the first to actually celebrate the season itself didn’t appear until the 1950’s). For the series this year, I plan to focus only on 2014 stamps. I will also try not to repeat any of the countries profiled last year (thus, no Australia or USA but it will be more difficult to leave out Christmas Island and Great Britain).
Look for “The 12 Days Of Christmas Stamps” starting on 12 December and running right through Christmas Eve.