World Stamps

Denise McCarty

Sing out! Carolers on stamps

December 01, 2017 06:00 PM

  • The United States Postal Service honored St. Francis of Assisi on a 20¢ stamp in 1982. In the 13th century, he incorporated music into his Nativity plays.
  • The 1926 U.S. Christmas seal pictures three court jesters of the Middle Ages caroling.
  • Antigua Scott 3323
  • Great Britain Scott 849
  • Great Britain Scott 1342
  • Australia Scott 1046
  • Canada Scott 476
  • Great Britain Scott 2850
  • Great Britain Scott 3342
  • Philippines Scott 1003
  • Switzerland issued Nov. 15
  • Nevis Scott 1413

By Denise McCarty

However the tradition of caroling started, it is shown in many different forms on postage stamps and Christmas seals. For example, a 1926 United States Christmas seal designed by George V. Curtis (Scott WX38) depicts three medieval court jesters singing and making music.

Among the earliest Christmas stamps featuring carolers, as opposed to a specific carol, were two issued by Canada in 1967. These 3¢ carmine (Scott 476) and 5¢ green (477) stamps show the same design of three children caroling in the foreground with the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Ontario, in the background.

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Not all carolers pictured on stamps are human. Great Britain featured the claymation figures Wallace (an inventor) and Gromit (his dog) on Christmas stamps in 2010. The nondenominated second-class stamps (Scott 2849a, 2849c, 2850, 2852) show the pair sharing a caroling songbook. Of course, the silent Gromit does not actually appear to be singing.

On a 2016 stamp from Antigua and Barbuda (Scott 3323) three Klingons, the hostile, warrior aliens from the Star Trek series, joyfully belt out a carol.

A December 2014 article by Anna Medaris Miller for U.S. News & World Report is titled “Hallelujah! Caroling Is Good for Your Health,” so it shouldn’t be surprising that even Klingons are happy when singing Christmas songs in unison.

Miller wrote: “Not only does singing feel great, it is great for body and mind. Studies have linked group singing with the release of feel-good hormones like oxytocin, which can amp up tolerance for pain; and the reduction of stress-related hormones like cortisol, which can boost immune system function. Busting out your best rendition of ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ has cognitive, social and emotional benefits, too.”