Brits turn their back on religious Christmas stamps

Brits turn their back on religious Christmas stamps December 16, 2018

An outfit called the Christmas Starts with Christ campaign is bitterly disappointed that Jesus has been ‘airbrushed’ out of stamps created for the 2018 festive season.

Last year the the UK had awful images like the one above, but this year secular themes are the order of the day.

Why? Because the National Federation of SubPostmosters (sic) said that demand for stamps depicting the Biblical Christmas story has plummeted, and now account for approximately 60 per cent – an increase on approximately 40 per cent compared to 2013.

After including images of famous religious paintings – including the Small Chapter Madonna by Raphael – last year, the postal service published this year twelve designs which are all linked to the iconic British red postbox.

The Telegraph adds that Royal Mail’s religious stamps tended to be more serious and less glamorous in their design than secular stamps.

Tim Dieppe, head of public policy at Christian Concern, said:

There’s much in the Christmas story that could be visual. You’ve got the kings, the shepherds, the manger, the appearances of the angels. There is much to be creative with in the Christmas story.

I don’t know whether it is because the artists for secular stamps are better and more creative than those designing the religious ones. 

It is disappointing. Perhaps secular stamps portray the Christmas story in a more glamorous way. Sometimes I think religious artists are trying to make it more serious – portrayals of Father Christmas happy and smiling are Mary holding a baby is less attractive.

One frustrated consumer, eager to get his Christmas cards sent out, resorted to buying religious ones online from Royal Mail, resulting in him paying £1.45 postage on postage stamps.

Another customer who said they were unable to buy religious stamps said:

Clearly the Royal Mail is determined to take Christ out of Christmas.

Coincidentally I stumbled on this report after buying a bunch of cards for friends. Many will be getting this one from the Buddy Fenandez Range:

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  • Broga

    Who decides to put these propaganda images on stamps? I suppose they are of the same authoritarian ilk as those who censor a secular opinion from Thought for the Day. They decide and the rest of us pay.

  • Götterdämmerung

    Usually at this time of year we hear the whinging Christians moaning that there aren’t enough religious xmas cards in supermarkets, the same bunch of irritants who moan about Easter eggs being devoid of religious propaganda.

  • barriejohn

    “Secular” stamps portray the celebration of the Winter Solstice. What could be more natural than that?

  • barriejohn

    Shouldn’t that be the National Federation of Postmonsters? The religious are constantly on the lookout for villains and scapegoats. The Post Box stamps are, like so many commemoratives, beautiful. If this prissy protester is looking for visual symbols in the Nativity story of Luke (why not the other gospels?), might I suggest the bullshit in the stable? Others may have their own ideas!

  • Vanity Unfair

    I don’t remember seeing last year’s religious stamps so the one shown is new to me. There are a couple of things I find objectionable.

    First, Mary is shown reading from a codex. The earliest known codices date from the 2nd. Century. Of course there might have been earlier ones that just haven’t survived but even today Jewish religious manuscripts are generally on scrolls. A codex would be very improbable. And, of course, manuscript books were always very expensive.

    Secondly, Mary is shown reading. Literacy in 1st. Century Levant is generally accepted to have been very rare, and amongst women almost unknown. The exceptions would be found usually in the ruling and religious classes. Had Mary been from either of those backgrounds I’m sure it would have been mentioned.

    It is details like this that make me doubt the veracity of the bible stories when they form the sort of propaganda presented here.

    Broga, I hope you do not mind my piggy-backing here. For some reason the site won’t let me make an “original” comment but does recognise me in the “reply” option. (I shall think of something original one day.) If I have upset Barry I apologise but I am sure he would have mentioned it if I had.

  • Broga

    Thanks for your interesting comments and that is a very welcome piggy-back for me.

    I assume that the alleged authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke etc, apart from writing long after the time they described, were illiterate (I don’t use word pejoratively) fishermen. The possibility that they could have written the gospels is vanishingly unlikely. Also the gospels seem to have been rewritten to fit in with prophesies made long before. Regarding being illiterate some of the semi-literate people I have known have the kind of complex knowledge about the innards of massive farm machinery or electrics that I couldn’t get close to approaching.

    Regarding Eskimo Man, I am provoked into the pointless attempt to shame him into some semblance of common. Even disputing his nonsense does more for his fragile ego that it does for those of us here who insult him. Richard Dawkins stopped debating with religious bigots because doing that raised their profile and gave them publicity. (I am not, of course, comparing myself to Professor Dawkins.) When he refused to accept their invitations for futile public debate he was then accused of being scared to debate with them. I saw a television programme where he read aloud some of the letters he had received. Descriptions of the hell he faced he read with amusement and laughter.

    Much of my childhood involved Sunday School and Church. I have many happy memories, from Sunday School, the Christmas Party, the Summer Picnic on the nearby coast and Christmas Carols. . My favourite, and still fondly remembered is “In the bleak mid winter.” The words are a treat.

  • barriejohn

    What about the tone of her skin?

  • Lurker111

    “… demand for stamps depicting the Biblical Christmas story has plummeted,
    and now account for approximately 60 per cent – an increase on
    approximately 40 per cent compared to 2013.”

    ^^^^ Google translate isn’t helping.

    Side issue: I don’t know how it is in the UK, but US stamps have, in the last years, really disappointed, mainly because the colors are so muddy and the designs are, frankly, stuff that I could do. There’s no fun or inspiration to them.

  • barriejohn

    I know what you mean. Sometimes the artists seem to try to cram far too much into the design, and our Millennium collection contained many designs so dark that you couldn’t make out what they depicted. Here are this year’s British commemoratives, of which the Christmas ones are, in my opinion, the most attractive:

  • Lurker111

    Some of these are actually good. The top series on Game of Thrones lacks crispness, but the others are all better than what we have. I think the main problem is that stamps are no longer engraved–they’re printed using a different process. Old stamps had print and lines on them sharp enough to cut your fingers. No longer so.

    I liked the post-box Christmas series. Also the “Dad’s Army” series–I don’t think that’s made it to the US as a PBS program or series yet, but I’ll be looking.

  • barriejohn

    “Stupid boy!”

    I wonder whether the humour in “Dad’s Army” would be appreciated in America, as it is so quintessentially British. (“Are You Being Served?” has been a great success, though, albeit with dialogue notes!)

    Here is the Millennium Collection, and l literally had to use a magnifying glass to read the captions on some of them, as I had no idea what they showed:

  • Lurker111

    You can click on each stamp and get a better version to look at (and then use the back-arrow to get back to the overall page).

    I see more muddiness in several series here, though many of the stamps are crisp. I still like the Queen Elizabeth cameo classic stamps.

    And yes, Are You Being Served was well appreciated here, along with Keeping Up Appearances. The wife & I used to watch Eastenders (several years behind the British season, over here), but eventually that got old, especially after Janine pushed Barry off the hill and then waited for him to die. (Side comment: The actress who played Janine was so good at her roll, I’m surprised she didn’t have people coming up to her on the street and snapping at her.)

  • barriejohn

    It might interest you to know that actors who have played “baddies” in soap operas here have been accosted in the street on many occasions. Tells you a lot about human nature.

    You can click on each stamp and get a better version to look at…

    That only works on the internet, not when letters drop through your letterbox (which is what I was referring to!).

  • Lurker111

    Ah! I see now. 🙂