Holiday Wreaths Oct. 25 ceremony at L.L. Bean store in Maine
By Michael Baadke
United States Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan is scheduled to participate in an Oct. 25 first-day ceremony for a set of four stamps displaying festive wreaths.
The event will begin at 11 a.m. at the L.L. Bean flagship store, 95 Main St., in Freeport, Maine.
The ceremony is free and open to the public, but visitors can register in advance at the U.S. Postal Service website.
The new nondenominated (55¢) forever stamps will be issued in a double-sided pane of 20, which the U.S. Postal Service identifies as a booklet. They will be placed on sale nationwide on the Oct. 25 issue date.
“Inspired by the holiday decorating traditions of early America, the four wreaths featured on these stamps are classic yet contemporary,” the Postal Service said in its new-issue announcement. “Their designs create feelings of warmth and welcome.”
The stamps are being made available during the Christmas mailing season, but are inscribed only with “FOREVER” and “USA,” plus a small 2019 year date in the upper left corner.
The Postal Service usually inscribes “CHRISTMAS” on its traditional Christmas issues, which feature a portrait of the Madonna and Child or other design with a religious theme. In recent years, these traditional stamps have been issued every other year and made available over two consecutive holiday seasons. A Madonna and Child by Bachiacca forever stamp (Scott 5331) was issued Oct. 3, 2018.
The four wreaths on the new stamps were created by floral artist Laura Dowling and photographed by Kevin Allen. USPS art director Antonio Alcala designed the stamps.
The Postal Service provided a brief description of each of the four designs.
“The ribbon leaf wreath is inspired by French floral art. Aspidistra leaves, folded and manipulated to resemble ribbons, create a long-lasting wreath.
“Gilded pinecones and magnolia pods grace the wreath trimmed with cranberry red ribbon.
“Red and gold ribbon adorns the wreath made from gilded dried hydrangea, eucalyptus and nandina foliage, red berries, and small ornaments.
“The woodland bush ivy and red winterberry wreath presents a classic red and green palette.”
Each wreath is displayed against a paneled front door in either red or white.
The four-stamp set brings to mind the first U.S. Christmas stamp issued by the Post Office Department in 1962.
The design of the 4¢ green and red stamp (Scott 1205) features two burning taper candles at left and a round evergreen wreath at right adorned with a red ribbon bow at the bottom.
Over the years, some U.S. holiday stamps have depicted wreaths as an element of a larger design, such as the 32¢ Family at Fireplace stamp issued in a 1996 set of four showing Christmas activities (Scott 3108, 3113).
In 1998 the Postal Service issued its first set of four stamps depicting various wreaths: an evergreen wreath, Victorian wreath, chili pepper wreath and tropical wreath (Scott 3245-3252).
With the 2013 introduction of the round global forever stamp for international letter mail, Postal Service officials began considering designs suitable to fit within the round stamps.
A decorated evergreen wreath illustrated the second global forever stamp, issued in 2013 (Scott 4814), and a wreath made of silver bells and red ribbon appeared on the fourth stamp in the series, in 2014 (4936).
Wreaths have served as a symbol and decoration for the Christmas season for centuries.
The traditional Advent season begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, in anticipation of the day that commemorates the birth of Jesus.
A circular advent wreath positioned horizontally is constructed with four candles to mark the four weeks before Christmas. One candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, an additional candle is lit each Sunday after that, and a fifth candle in the wreath’s center — the Christ candle — is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
The Christmas wreath is usually found hung vertically on the front door of a home or as a decoration in a window or inside the home.
Though traditionally consisting of evergreen branches, the wreath can be crafted with all types of natural or synthetic elements and decorations.
Two pictorial first-day cancels, one in black and the other in color, have been prepared for the Holiday Wreaths issue. The black postmark shows ivy and berries, while the color postmark depicts a green wreath.
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