Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Eid stamps available

December 5th, 2009

With the holidays nearing, the post office has two new Christmas stamps and the usual array of postage for other holidays available.

Each year, the US Postal Service issues what it calls a traditional stamp featuring a Madonna for Christmas, as well as nonreligious stamps that it says are for the winter holidays.

This year there is a 44-cent Madonna and Sleeping Child, based on a painting by the 17th Century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi, commonly known as Sassoferrato. The painting is currently in the collection of Hearst Castle in California. Madonna stamps have been issued annually since 1978.

The secular winter holiday stamps feature a reindeer, snowman, gingerbread man and toy soldier.

Other holiday stamps available include:

- Hanukkah, which features a photograph of a menorah with nine lit candles. The first stamp marking this Jewish festival was issued in 1996.

- Kwanzaa, the post-Christmas African-American celebration, is marked by a family grouping in bright green, red, gold and black. Kwanzaa stamps were first issued in 1997.

- Eid, which continues the annual issuance of the stamp launched in 2001 to mark Islamic festivals, or eids. It shows the Arabic phrase Eid mubarak