A New Face in an Age-long Tradition

October 30th, 2008

The tender relationship between mother and child and a prayerful gesture by a young boy will help deliver the joy of Christmas this season. Featured on the 2008 Christmas stamp is the Virgin and Child with the Young John the Baptist painting by Italian master Sandro Botticelli.

"The new Christmas stamp symbolizes the spirit of the season - joy and giving," said Susan M. Brownell, vice president, Supply Management, for the United States Postal Service. "We are proud that this stamp will decorate billions of greeting cards, letters and packages this holiday season."

Since 1978, the theme of the Christmas stamp has been the Madonna and Child, and the stamps have attracted a devoted following over the years. The 2008 design feature has an added twist with the additional figure of John the Baptist. The painting, tempera and oil on wood, by Botticelli dates to around 1490 and is now part of the world-renowned collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Although cropped to fit the stamp format, Virgin and Child with the Young John the Baptist is painted within a round format, or tondo, a popular shape in Italy in the 1400s and 1500s.