Sunday, January 4, 2009

Madonna And Child Stamp Gets To Heart Of Christmas

Madonna And Child Stamp Gets To Heart Of Christmas

Few holidays have more deeply rooted traditions than Christmas. Among those traditions is the custom of many postal administrations to include a Madonna and Child design among its Christmas stamps. Each year, many new versions of this traditional scene appear on stamps.

This year, Australia Post recruited Melinda Colombes to design its stamps. She used a range of modern technologies to emulate traditional scenes popular as far back as the Middle Ages. The three stamps resemble a three-part altarpiece when seen together. Colorful fabrics provide an attractive background. Pictured here is the 50-cent Madonna and Child.

Traditionalists in New Zealand could buy stamps with the work of Auckland-based illustrator Martin Bailey, who depicted images of the baby Jesus, born to Mary and her husband, Joseph, in a stable in Bethlehem.

New Zealand Post also offered more modern designs, the result of the New Zealand Post's third annual "Design a Stamp" competition, in which it invited schoolchildren throughout New Zealand to create stamps. There was a record-breaking response, with more than 20,000 entries from 2,400 schools.

Icons from the beginning of the 16th century decorate stamps from Greek Cyprus this year. The image of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, with representations of the archangels Gabriel and Michael, are in a small church in the village of Pelendri.

The Irish post office commissioned James Hanley to prepare this year's Christmas stamps. The 82-cent stamp depicts the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel visited Mary in Nazareth. The 55-cent shows the Flight into Egypt.

Hungary celebrates the centennial of the birth of artist Gyorgy Konecsni by reproducing two of his paintings on this year's Christmas stamps. The art teacher was the creator of numerous paintings, posters, murals and mosaics, as well as postage stamp designs. The designs were prepared by Konecsni years ago (he died in 1970), but were not used for stamps. Subjects are the Annunciation and the Adoration of the Magi.

The central stained-glass window of the Church of St. Catherine in Bethlehem decorates Belgium's Christmas stamp sheetlet this year. The window was made by the Ganton Brothers of Ghent, Belgium, and was presented to the church in 1926. Besides the traditional creche scene, the window includes images of St. Francis, the Belgian coat of arms and a portrait of Cardinal Mercier, Belgium's highest-ranking Catholic in 1926. Fringing the sheetlet are the words "Peace on Earth" in 14 languages.