In the past 50 years New Zealand Post's Christmas stamps have adorned envelopes carrying messages of Christmas cheer to loved ones at home and abroad.
With the festive season approaching, Christmas 2010 will be no different. As New Zealanders around the country search for the perfect presents and organise the Christmas dinner, New Zealand Post is releasing its 50th anniversary issue of Christmas stamps. Printed with metallic silver, the 2010 Christmas stamp issue features images of stamps from popular Christmas themes of the last half-century.
Stamps based on classical paintings have been popular throughout the years. The very first Christmas stamp depicted Rembrandt's painting 'The Adoration of the Shepherds'. Painted in 1646, it's an intimate scene in which the shepherds kneel before the crib of baby Jesus.
In the past 50 years, New Zealand Christmas stamps have showcased various stained glass windows from New Zealand churches. The window from the First Presbyterian Church in Invercargill featured on the 1970 Christmas stamp, and now appears on the $1.20 stamp.
Christmas in New Zealand has been a prevalent theme, and the 1979 Christmas stamp featured a Pohutukawa tree in bloom along the Thames-Coromandel coast. With its brilliant display of red flowers in the summer, it is often referred to as the New Zealand Christmas tree.
Modern interpretations of the traditional Christmas story have regularly recurred in the Christmas stamp issues. The Southern Cross and the Star of Bethlehem were depicted on the 1983 Christmas stamp and are the focus of this year's $2.40 stamp.
Continuing the traditional Christmas theme, the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus were beautifully illustrated on the 2000 Christmas stamp, and now appear on the $2.90 stamp.