World Stamps

Santa gets around: a look at stamps of other countries

Dec 6, 2023, 1 PM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

The sleigh and eight reindeer might be the well-worn method for Santa Claus to visit all the good little girls and boys on Christmas Eve night, but other countries have reimagined the story, often to comport with their climates, and other times just for fun.

In the latter category, Figure 1 shows a strip of five South Africa stamps (Scott 1365) issued in 2006 that use cartoon representations of native animals in place of the usual figures: a lion dressed up as Santa, with the sleigh being pulled (from left to right) by an antelope, warthog, zebra and a hippopotamus.

Figures 2 through 7 show a selection of stamps from other countries portraying Santa at work and play.

The 1977 Australia stamp (Scott 669) in Figure 2 shows Santa on a surfboard. Keep in mind that Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, so while we in the United States are chilling our way through winter, Australia is basking in summer sunshine.

Also south of the Equator is Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, about 900 miles from Liberia. Two of its stamps from a 1996 set (Scott 660-664) are shown in Figure 3. One (662) depicts Santa relaxing on a beach, and the other (663) shows him distributing gifts from a modern jet.

A 1971 set from the Seychelles (Scott 291-293), an island group in the Indian Ocean not far from Mauritius, pictures Santa distributing presents from a canoe (not shown); flying on a magic carpet; and most unusual of all, traveling by turtle. Figure 4 shows the latter two stamps.

Turtle transport might square with the expectations of local youngsters, but it would hardly do for keeping up with the concept of Santa completing a worldwide tour in 24 hours.

Another delivery by canoe is illustrated on the three stamps in the center of a 1993 strip of five from the Republic of Palau (Scott 317), a group of islands in the ...

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