Christmas Stamps 2022: Åland

The Åland Islands — an autonomous and demilitarized region of Finland in the Gulf of Bothnia where the official language is Swedish — is one of my favorite areas from which I collect stamps. The entity began issuing its own stamps on 1 March 1984 and I had a fairly complete collection of her stamps and other interesting philatelic items before I moved to Asia, leaving it all behind. I have slowly been reacquiring what I lost and adding new material as I go along. I especially enjoy the beautiful Christmas stamps and seals that Åland Post releases every October.

This year’s offerings will be issued later this week, on 20 October, created by Finnish illustrator Sami Saramäki in his first stamps for Åland Post and designed by Johanna Finne. There are two gummed stamps featuring a modern take on classic garden gnomes, denominated Julpost (€1.20) & Världen (€2.60), as well as a pre-paid postal card which is sold as a maximum card. In addition, there are four self-adhesive Christmas seal labels. All of them are available for purchase through Åland Post.

Here is the press release about the stamps, with add-ins covering the first day covers and maximum card:

Christmas starts early with the release of this year’s Christmas stamps on 20 October. Finnish illustrator Sami Saramäki debuts for Åland Post with a retro-inspired and poetic Christmas series. “I made several sketches, but those with small gnomes quickly became favourites, so, they became my focus point for the stamp motifs”, Sami reveals.

Christmas is the holiday when we send most greetings by post. Scandinavians’ image of Christmas celebrations has been influenced by the card motifs. Many Christmas symbols have been around since the first cards were imported from England and Germany in the 1800s, introducing foreign traditions such as gnomes, Christmas tree, and presents to the Nordic peoples. Swedish artist Jenny Nyström’s illustrations of gnomes and Åland descendant Haddon Sundblom’s drawings of Santa Claus in the 1930s have also contributed to our image of Santa and his little helpers.

For this year’s Christmas stamps, illustrator Sami Saramäki created a modern version of the classic gnomes. On one stamp, the gnomes are on their way to Åland with the Christmas mail, guided by the lighthouse on the island Sälskär, located northwest of main Åland. On the other stamp, they have taken a break from their delivery round at the 13th century St. Michael church in Finström.

Sami describes his creative process:
“I started by researching which visual elements would be suitable for traditional stamps. Those with small gnomes quickly became favourites. Pondering on different settings for the gnomes, I liked the Finström church and Sälskär lighthouse. I made 3D models of the church and lighthouse on my computer to better understand their forms.”

Christmas is the holiday when we send most greetings by post. The Julpost stamp features gnomes taking a break from their delivery rounds at the Finström church. The denomination Julpost signifies that the stamp may be used as a more favourable postage for Christmas greetings to addressees in Åland and Finland during a limited period in November and December every year. Julpost stamps may be used as postage at the current value all year round.

The Världen stamp illustrates gnomes on their way to Åland with the Christmas mail, guided by the Sälskär lighthouse, located northwest of main Åland.

The first day cover shows gnomes posting their Christmas mail in the characteristic mailbox of Åland Post. Regarded by many as the bird of Christmas, the bullfinch with its red breast adorns the first day cancel.

Outside, snow is falling. The snow covers the rooftops. Candles burn bright in the houses. Jolly gnomes with stable lanterns and sacks of Christmas gifts sneak around where people live. The maximum card evokes a feeling of Christmas. The special cancellation depicts spruce cones. The postage-paid symbol on the address side of the card shows a gnome posting his Christmas mail in an Åland Post mailbox. The franking symbol signifies that postage is included in the price of the card, which can thus be posted from Åland to any destination in the world.

The stamps were printed by Cartor Security Printers in France, using the 4-color offset lithography process on 110 g/m² gummed paper and printed in full sheets of 40 stamps for each design (two panes of 20, separated by additional illustrations in the gutter). The quantity is 130,000 for the Julpost stamps and 45,000 for the Världen denominations. The stamps measure 35,6 x 25,5 mm and are perforated 13 x 13. Further technical details are found below.

Date of issue20 October 2022
ArtistSami Saramäki
DesignJohanna Finne
Editions130 000 & 45 000
DenominationsJulpost (€1.20) & Världen (€2.60)
Stamp sizes35,6 x 25,5 mm
Sheet size2 x 20 stamps
Paper110 g/m²
Perforation13 per 2 cm
Printing process4-colour offset
Printing houseCartor Security Printers

Christmas Seals

Åland Post is one of only a few postal administrations around the world that produces its own Christmas seals and they are usually designed by the same team that handles their Christmas postage stamps. The 2022 edition is no different with more illustrations by Sami Saramäki. Here is the press release:

On 20 October, Åland Post issues this year’s sheet of Christmas seals for decoration of your Christmas cards and parcels. Illustrator Sami Saramäki has illustrated the self-adhesive stickers with well-known Christmas and winter symbols. As in previous years, proceeds from the sale are distributed to socially useful activities in Åland. This year’s beneficiary is “Fältarna”, a team of street workers working with and for teenagers.

Since 1993, Åland Post has supported non-profit associations and relief activities in Åland through the sale of Christmas seals. The beneficiary of the 2022 Christmas seal grant is “Fältarna”, a team of community-based street workers working with and for teenagers aged 13–17. The youth workers strive to create safe connections and be a continuous support on the youth’s terms, and serve as a link between parents, school, social services, and police. Visiting schools, youth centres, and parent meetings and organizing youth groups, they offer teenagers an opportunity to discuss subjects such as domestic violence, drugs, alcohol, bullying, love worries, and loneliness. The grant will be used for study materials and activities for the teens.

Sami Saramäki lives in Helsinki and has worked as an illustrator in the advertising industry for some 20 years. Sami often illustrates winter motifs and says: “For some reason, I’m often asked to illustrate winterscapes, but I don’t mind. I like winter, so, this assignment suited me perfectly.”

Sold in sheets of 20 seals, Christmas seals are self-adhesive seals for decoration and sealing of Christmas cards, letters, and parcels.

Date of issue20 October 2022
ArtistSami Saramäki
Edition3000 sheets of 20 self-adhesive seals
Size30,6 x 25,8 mm
Sheet size210 x 145 mm
PaperSticotac Semigloss, white 80gms
Printing process4-colour offset
Printing houseCartor Security Printers

Order the Christmas stamps, first day covers, maximum card, and seals at, by post to Åland Post Stamps, P.O. box 1100, AX-22111 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland, e-mail or telephone: +358 18636641.

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