Christmas Stamps 2022: Ukraine – “Victorious New Year!”

Released on December 19, 2022, this issue from Ukraine more accurately commemorates St. Nicholas Day than Christmas and its official Ukrainian Postal Service (Ukrposhta/Укрпошта) title is “Victorious New Year!” («Переможного Нового року!»).

St. Nicholas maximum card bearing Scott #1192 (issued on December 19, 2018) and postmarked on St. Nicholas Day, December 19, 2022, in Kyiv.

The Feast of Saint Nicholas, observed on December 19 in Eastern Christian countries using the old church Calendar, is the feast day of Saint Nicholas of Myra and falls within the season of Advent. It is celebrated as a Christian festival with particular regard to Saint Nicholas’ reputation as a bringer of gifts, as well as through the attendance of church services.

Young philatelists and a canister dog gather with St. Nicholas at the main Kyiv, Ukraine, post office on December 19, 2022 Photo courtesy of Ukrposhta.

In Ukraine children wait for St. Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows provided that the children were good during the year. Children who behaved badly may expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows. On Saint Nicholas Day, gifts are tagged with personal humorous rhymes written by the sender. The American Santa Claus, as well as the British Father Christmas, derive from Saint Nicholas. “Santa Claus” is itself derived in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas, the saint’s name in that language. However, the gift giving associated with these descendant figures is associated with Christmas Day rather than Saint Nicholas Day itself.

The design on this year’s holiday stamp came about as the result of a competition, the winner of which was announced in early November as the result of some 15,000 votes. The sketch was titled “Separated by the War” and was created by an 11th grader named Valeria Mikhailova who had fled from her city of Nikolaev on the frontlines due to incessant Russian shelling. The design depicts a girl and a Ukrainian soldier who celebrate the holiday apart: she is alone, he is on the line of fire. According to Ukrposhta,

“Now there are millions of those who carry the pain of separation from loved ones. And millions of those who can only mentally hug them through the cities. And millions of those who dream of a quiet and healing year 2023 for Ukraine and each of us, and therefore returns, tears of joy, meetings and long conversations.”

Second place in the competition was a sketch with the Ukrainian military and carolers by Oleksandr Okhapkin, Honored Artist of Ukraine working in the field of icon painting. This was used on the postcard issued in conjunction with the “Victorious New Year” stamp. The third place winner depicts a family that was reunited and was created by Iryna Babenko.

The winning design underwent a few changes suggested by participants in the online polling. Natalia Mukhina of Ukrposhta stated in a post on her Facebook page that

“This work is about the grief that the war brought to our land, about separation, about the most cherished dream-VICTORY and about our future.

The competitive sketch has undergone changes – we listened to your advice and joined the hands of love, because no one can separate two loving hearts, removed the salute and placed candles on the windowsill — an indispensable attribute of Ukrainian evenings, added snow on the battlefield and finalized the clothes of the military.

“The plot of the envelope complements the story, where he and she meet the next year together, watching the salute outside the window and making plans for the future in a strong and free Ukraine!”

Igor Smelyansky (Ігор Смілянський), Director General of Ukrposhta was quoted by the newspaper Хмельниччина північ as saying that “the main message remains unchanged – the war has divided many Ukrainians, created borders where joy and laughter reigned last New Year.”

The “Victorious New Year” issue has a No-Value Indicator of “U” which had a face value of U₴12.00 on the date of issue and is sold in sheets of six stamps. They were printed using offset lithography by the Integrated Printing Plant Ukraina For Securities in a total run of 720,000 stamps and 120,000 cacheted envelopes. The stamp measures 40.5 x 30 mm while the sheet is 119 x 117 mm.

From a Ukrposhta post on Facebook: “New Year’s postal residence has prepared a surprise — on December 19, we are happy to open the doors and wait for parents with their children to visit ✨❄ Unfortunately, this year it is very difficult to recreate the atmosphere of the holidays – many children saw the horrors of war, lost their relatives and homes, fled from missiles and became adults of no age. Therefore, in the main post office of Kyiv and in all post offices of regional centers, Ukrposhta created islands of magic – with Christmas trees decorated with mailboxes and a meeting with the New Year’s wizard.

Stamp designer Valeria Mikhailova assists Ukrposhta Director General Igor Smelyansky with postmarking first day covers at the Kyiv main post office on December 19, 2022. Photo courtesy of Ukrposhta.

The December 19 online sales of the new stamps were again greeted by cyber-attacks but the sales at post offices went ahead with great cheer where they were possible due to security concerns. Director Smelyansky was on hand at the main post office in Kyiv where he was assisted by children including the 11th-grade designer herself, Valeria Mikhailova. In his Telegraph and Facebook posts that evening, he remarked that it was “very symbolic that the stamp was launched on St. Nicholas Day with the author from the city – the hero of Nikolaev.” He also mentioned that the “children were met by canister dogs — four-legged volunteers who visit children and the military in hospitals, whose families suffered severe emotional trauma. Dogs are about loyalty, unconditional love and faster emotional recovery. Support is important for children…”

In addition to the “Victorious New Year” stamp, a “Merry Christmas!” postcards was issued utilizing the competition’s second place design by Honored Artist of Ukraine Oleksandr Okhapkin. This shows a soldier and carolers flanked by a pair of angels.

Presentation folder for Ukraine’s “Victorious New Year” stamp and “Merry Christmas” postcard, released on December 19, 2022

Tranlation: “Far, so that hands — communicate with letters.”

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