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New Christmas stamps from Norway

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This year's Christmas stamps by Norway Post are dedicated to old postcards.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of sifting through piles of old postcards will have noticed the great variety in this pictorial material.

The oldest Norwegian postcards date back to the 1880s and even then Christmas cards were predominant. Norway's Christmas gnome was an important feature then and he has been a familiar figure on Norwegian Christmas cards ever since.

As card manufacturers learned more about marketing, they began to appeal to people's emotions. When Christmas celebrations focusing on children and family grew in popularity, romantic Christmas traditions came to the fore, particularly Christmas Eve customs. Going to church by horse and cart, bringing home and decorating the Christmas tree and close-up shots of oat sheaves with bull finches and titmice are recurring themes. Christmas in the country is almost a whole genre in itself, with a prevalence of cliches from well-to-do farming communities: sleigh rides, Christmas parties and the romantic farming life. Food and drink are also well represented. The menus are something of a mixture, often showing a full spread of cakes, fruit, chocolate, meat dishes and desserts.

During the Prohibition (1917-26), Christmas gnomes were often used humoristically to convey a view of Norwegians' alcohol habits.

Children are the subjects of the postcards on this year's Christmas stamps. Children are often part of the scene, especially when it comes to Christmas preparations or opening parcels. Parcels are of course another frequent Christmas card motif - before, during and after opening.

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