November 03, 2005 12:16 ET

John McCallum, Minister Responsible for Canada Post, Announces New Stamps for the 2005 Holiday Season

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 3, 2005) - Christmas remains the number one occasion for sending cards and letters by mail, and new holiday stamps issued by Canada Post are sure to make every greeting special. Canada Post has issued four new Christmas stamp designs celebrating a world-renowned art form – creches – and everyone’s favourite winter friend – the snowman.

The snowman stamp and one creche design will be sold at the domestic rate (50 cents), while stamps for mail destined to the U.S. (85 cents) and international destinations ($1.45) will feature additional Nativity scenes.

"Christmas is a time when we all want to be with family and friends," said the Honourable John McCallum, Minister responsible for Canada Post. "The postal service allows us to share seasonal greetings and hope for the new year with the people we care most about, even when we can't be together. These stamps are the perfect couriers for the delivery of our holiday wishes, across our country and around the world."

Celebrating the spiritual aspect of the season, three stamps will feature creches. The word is derived from an old French word for a manger or crib. Creches typically depict a manger with the Christ child, Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, shepherds, animals, angels, and the guiding star. The tradition of church creches was brought to New France by the early settlers. The custom of setting up a creche under the Christmas tree became widespread during the 1930s. These stamps were designed by I. Charney Design Inc. and are based on the creches of Sylvia Daoust, Keena, and Michel Forest. These creches were chosen from the impressive permanent collection of more than 950 nativity scenes from some 100 countries at the Musee des creches, at Saint-Joseph's Oratory in Montreal.

What could be more appropriate than a roly-poly snowman to grace the final 2005 holiday season stamp? As Mother Nature readies herself for her first covering of the fluffy white stuff, children dream of snow angels, snow forts and snowmen. The snowman is as Canadian as Santa Claus, and a winter without him is unthinkable. Soon he will be popping up on greeting cards, television, in parades and song and on a special Canadian stamp. The stamp's special printing technique - holographic stamping - makes the issue sparkle like the season itself and greetings it will help to deliver.

To capture the essence of each creche on a postage stamp was the challenge faced by I. Charney Design Inc. After more than a year of work translating the detail, enormity and physical presence of the creches, the stamps are a beautiful tribute to this unique art form. The stamps pay homage to the Canadian artists who created the creches and the design team, including Montreal photographer Paul McCarthy, who captured their essence on these tiny canvases.

Helene L'Heureux designed and illustrated the snowman stamp. Her design, L'Heureux says, "integrates the snowman into the magical landscape of Northern Lights and reflects our Canadian way of imagining the spirit of the festivities."

Additional information about Canadian stamps can be found in the Newsroom section of Canada Post's website, and downloadable high-resolution photos of the snowman and creche stamps are in the Newsroom's Photo Centre. Stamps and Official First Day covers will be available at participating post offices, can be ordered online by following the links at Canada Post's website, or by mail-order from the National Philatelic Centre. From Canada and the USA call toll-free: 1-800-565-4362 and from other countries call: (902) 863-6550.

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