ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The First Christmas Stamp in the United States

Updated on December 31, 2013

First Christmas Stamp in America Was a Hit

The first Christmas stamp issued by the United States Postal Service wasn't released until 1962, and it was so popular that the initial print run sold out quickly. As a result, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing had to work round-the-clock to meet the demand. It was the start of a holiday tradition. Since that time, the USPS has issued new Christmas postage stamps every year (except 2000) so postal customers can decorate their seasonal mail.

(Image of first Christmas stamp provided by the USPS)

world's first christmas stamp
world's first christmas stamp

The First Christmas Stamp in America

The holiday tradition began in the '60s

During the holidays, Americans send more than 2 billion greeting cards, and many of us go out and buy special Christmas postage stamps to adorn those cards and Christmas letters. It's such a tradition that you may not realize it's only been in the past few decades that the United States Postal Service started issuing these special stamps. The first Christmas stamp in the United States wasn't released until 1962 and other winter holidays - Hanukkah and Kwanzaa - weren't recognized with their own stamps until 1996 and 1997, respectively.

The United States, however, didn't invent holiday stamps. Credit for the first Christmas stamp (shown here) generally goes to Canada, which issued a 2-cent stamp in 1898 with the words, "XMAS 1898." The stamp, which featured a map of the world, wasn't originally planned to celebrate the holidays. But when Postmaster William Mulock suggested to Queen Victoria that the stamp be issued in November to "honor the Prince," the queen seemed displeased and asked which prince Mulock was referring to. He quickly replied, "the Prince of Peace, m'am," and the stamp was released in December with the Xmas inscription.

The United States didn't issue its first Christmas stamp until 1962. The 4-cent stamp featured a wreath, two candles, and the words "Christmas 1962" and quickly sold out the initial run of 350 million stamps. As a result, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing had to work around the clock to meet the demand for the special holiday release. By the end of the 1962 holiday season, one billion of the stamps were sold.

The US Postal Service has issued new Christmas stamps every year since then (except in 2000 when the rates were about to change), and now it's also possible to create your own personalized USPS stamps for the holidays with online services that make it easy to use your own photos and images.

(Public domain image of world's first Christmas stamp provided by Wikipedia. This article originally appeared as The First Christmas Stamp in America on HubPages.)

Do You Use Christmas Stamps?

Do you buy special holiday stamps for your seasonal mailings?

See results

Create or Customize Your Own Christmas Stamps

Real US postage you can personalize

The USPS continues to print and distribute new Christmas postage stamps every year, but now you don't have to settle for the same stamp used by all your friends and neighbors. Digital technology has made it easy to create your own personalized Christmas stamps on sites such as Zazzle or PhotoStamps. You can use your own photos or art or even customize any of the thousands of designs available on Zazzle. Here's a sampling of what's available. Choose a stamp or make your own!

Christmas Stamp Art

This video shows some of the religious artwork that has been depicted on Christmas postage stamps over the years.

While You're Stamping Your Christmas Cards...

Listen to some free Christmas music. Every day in December, Amazon will be offering free Christmas music downloads.

Did You Learn Something New About the First Christmas Stamp?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      There is a lot of history on this page. Very sentimental sweet Christmas lens. Have an amazing holiday season.

    • ePrintPostage profile image

      ePrintPostage 3 years ago

      Great lens, I didn't know anything about the first Christmas stamp, thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Almost that time again. Beautiful lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Awesome lens! I love the Christmas stamps!

    • profile image

      Oosquid 7 years ago

      "Did You Learn Something New . . ." Yes, I did not know about that Canadian stamp. Nice lens. Merry Christmas.