Manager and Editor, The Virtual Stamp Club
The U.S. didn’t issue a Hanukkah stamp this year.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Hanukkah. I light the candles every year and have had my own menorah, the same one, since I moved out on my own. (That’s it on the Dragon Card on the right.) I give and receive gifts, I sing and play the music, and I produce first day covers when the U.S. does issue the stamp.
However, it’s a minor, post-biblical holiday whose importance is inflated by its proximity to Christmas.
Jewish homes don’t have Christmas trees, but they have menorahs. Jewish kids don’t receive gifts from Santa, but they get them from parents and relatives. Public school music ensembles, at least in this area, always include a Hanukkah piece in their holiday concerts – a former of musical quota system. And every other year, we get a Hanukkah stamp.
Now, there must be a market for Hanukkah stamps, because the U.S. Postal Service wouldn’t keep issuing them if there weren’t. Remember the Thanksgiving stamp? It was such a turkey that only one was ever issued. The USPS tried Cinco de Mayo twice with similar results. Eid, on the other hand, sells well, and not just to Christians who think that’s a stylized Christmas tree design.
I suspect many of the people buying the Hanukkah stamp are Christians, for use on holiday cards they send their Jewish friends. Jews are as likely to send cards to their Jewish friends in late summer, for their High Holy Days, as they are to send Hanukkah cards.
And that’s the point of this essay: I think the U.S. should issue a Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) or High Holy Days stamp. Israel calls its stamps “Festivals,” which include not only Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) but also Sukkot (harvest festival) and Simchat Torah (finishing and beginning again the reading of the Old Testament).
The four holidays that comprise the fall festivals would give the USPS a wealth of possible designs, instead of menorahs and dreydls. These HHD stamps could still be used two months later to send “Season’s Greetings.”
Really? What are all those Madonna and Child stamps, which the USPS calls “Traditional Christmas” issues? The Santa Claus stamps? What about the Eid stamp, which marks a Muslim holiday? Oh, and don’t forget the Hanukkah stamps.
I’m not saying the USPS shouldn’t issue those stamps, just that there’s really no reason not to give Jewish Festival stamps a try, and skip Hanukkah in 2015.
All that being said, I still wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season – Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice and everything else.