When was the first Christmas stamp issued?

The debate over the first seasonal stamp continues to rage.

When was the first Christmas stamp issued? © Washington Post

There was the decidedly un-festive map of the world marked with ‘Xmas 1898’, created by the Canadian postal service, but it was not a special Christmas issue.


In 1903, meanwhile, Danish postal clerk Einar Holboll came up with the idea of a charity Christmas ‘seal’, though it wasn’t technically a stamp, just a nice extra.

It wasn’t until 1937 that official greetings stamps were produced in Austria – yet some philatelists don’t even count these as 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.


This article was first published in the Christmas 2015 issue of History Revealed and answered by one of our Q&A experts, Sandra Lawrence