There was the decidedly un-festive map of the world marked ‘Xmas 1898’, created by the Canadian postal service, but it was not a special Christmas issue. In 1903, meanwhile, Danish postal clerk Einar Holbøll came up with the idea of a charity Christmas ‘seal’, though it wasn’t technically a stamp, just a nice extra.
- How can the Post Office keep pace with the modern world?
- Red Letter Days: 10 milestones in the history of the Post Office
It wasn’t until 1937 that official greetings stamps were produced in Austria – yet some philatelists don’t even count these because they didn’t have religious themes, instead depicting a rose and the zodiac.
For many purists, Hungary’s 1943 stamps showing the Nativity are the winners of the title. Britain got on board relatively late. Its first Christmas-themed postage stamp wasn’t printed until 1966, the brainchild of the Postmaster General – one Tony Benn.