Estonia released this pair of lovely stamps picturing Christmas ornaments on 20 November 2014. They are my second favorite holiday stamp I’ve seen so far this year (following the Finnish Santa Claus special stamp). The Eesti Post press release states:
Christmas time is still the most important holiday celebrated in Estonia. For Estonians, Christmas is a mixture of the traditional, the modern, the secular, and the religious. Like in other Nordic states, Estonia’s celebration of Christmas mostly falls on Christmas Eve, however Christmas season starts in Advent with people buying Advent calendars or lighting Advent candles.
In Estonian folk-tradition Christmas has a double meaning: on one hand, it is marking Christ’s birth, on the other, it marks the whole period of mid-winter holidays. The magic and mysticism of ancient pagan traditions shares the season with the sacred and spiritual celebrations.
Ancient folk tales warn that wild demons ride broomsticks through the countryside in December. To prevent these beasts from playing naughty tricks on people, all brooms have to be especially clean from the first Sunday of Advent until Christmas night.
Estonia’s first public Christmas tree was placed in front of the Town Hall in Tallinn in 1441, however, Christmas trees in the home didn’t become popular until the 19th century.
In earlier times, the tradition of making special Christmas crowns, imitating the church chandeliers, was widespread among the Estonians. The tradition disappeared around the turn of the century and was replaced by other Christmas symbols however, there was a revival of the ancient tradition in 1970s when it became very popular to make Christmas crowns once more.
Each year on December 24 the President of Estonia declares Christmas Peace and attends a Christmas service. Declaring a Christmas Peace is a 350 year old tradition which began in the seventeenth century by order of Queen Kristina of Sweden.
October 17th was the release date of this year’s Christmas stamps issued by Serbia. While most of the Christian world celebrates the Nativity of Christ on 25 December, three Orthodox Patriarchates – Jerusalem, Russian and Serbian – count the time according to the Julian calendar and their believers, due to the difference of thirteen days, celebrate Christmas on 7 January.
Christmas in Serbia is commemorated three days. This is, above all, a family holiday, marked with numerous ancient traditions. On the eve of Christmas, so-called Badnji Dan (Day before Christmas), Badnjak (an oak-tree yule log) is brought into the house, a vigil lamp is lighted, and straw scattered across the floor, together with some sweets, prunes, walnuts, sugar cubes and coins hidden.
The straw is there to symbolize the Nativity scene, the yule log is a symbol of longevity and steadiness of Christianity, and the warmth of love that Christ brings to us by His birth and arrival to the Earth. On the Christmas day, early in the morning, the church bells toll and announce the arrival and birth of Christ. The people go to church to the Christmas Liturgy and greet one another: “Christ is Born!”, answering: “He is truly Born!”
Motif on the stamp face value 23,00 RSD: “Christmas Anthem” fresco from the Monastery of Žiča, 1309-1316. Motif on the stamp face value 70,00 RSD: the central motif of the “Christmas Anthem” fresco from the Monastery of Žiča – Virgin with Child and notes with the song of Damaskin Grdanički.
Regardless of your religious affiliation or the manner in which you celebrate (if at all) the Christmas season, I hope you are enjoying a look at the beautiful art created on these bits of paper we call postage stamps. If you would like to spread a little holiday cheer and send me a postcard or letter with a nice Christmas stamp affixed, I’d be very appreciative. My mailing address can be found below.
8/1 Suthas Soi 2
T. Talat Yai
A. Muang Phuket