Austria

Christmas 2019 — Christmas Tree with Crystal
08 November 2019

Austria: Christmas 2019 – Christmas Tree with Crystal, 8 November 2019. Image from Colnect.

Date of Issue:  8 November 2019
Size: 32.5 x 40 mm
Colors: Dark blue green
Perforation: comb13½
Printing: Offset lithography
Gum: Ordinary
Face Value: 270 ct – Euro cent
Print Run: 190,000
Design: Anita Kern

Christmas 2019 – Christmas Tree with Crystal
A Very Special Christmas Tree

A gleaming polished crystal adorns the top of this unusual typographically designed Christmas tree, giving your Christmas post that special festive touch.

The outline of a Christmas tree is set against the green background of this stamp. The tree is only indicated through the iconic shape – we do not see a trunk, needles or branches, and yet we immediately know what it represents.

What is especially unusual about this Christmas tree is that it is exclusively composed of white typographical ornaments, which appear as fine decorations on the tree’s invisible branches, at the same time forming its outline in silhouette. The filigree elements are reminiscent of light and fluffy angel hair or powdery snow. Typographical flourishes, loops, stylised plant tendrils – the range of decorative forms is extremely varied.

Ornaments and Typography

Embellishing elements from the decorative arts are referred to as ornaments. They serve to decorate pictures, books, vases, building constructions or pieces of furniture and reflect the concept of beauty prevalent in the pertinent culture and age: from Greek Antiquity, for example, we have the meander, whilst the Jugendstil was known for its floral elements and sweeping lines.

Books have been decorated since time immemorial, with the laboriously designed initial letters used in medieval manuscripts or with opulent covers, for example. Ornaments play an important part in typography, the design of a printed work with types which entails far more than simply selecting a font. In the printing profession those glyphs which bear an ornament rather than a letter are referred to as typographical or publishers’ ornaments.Typographical flourishes are added to the letters at the beginning or end of a word. Elements such as vignettes, fleurons (stylised flowers) or tailpieces usually indicate the end of a portion of text or the start of a new chapter, whilst artistic ornaments are used to decorate title pages and the endpaper. As part of the modern “renaissance of classic typography”, these ornaments are once again being included in modern digital fonts.

Christmas 2019 — Mittelberg in Winter (ATM Label)
08 November 2019

<strong.Austria: Christmas 2019 – Mittelberg in Winter (ATM label), 8 November 2019. Image from Colnect.

Date of Issue: 8 November 2019
Size: 43 x 25.5 mm
Colors: Multicolor
Perforation: Imperforate
Printing: Offset lithography
Gum: Ordinary
Face Value: Variable ct – Euro cent
Various Imprints: SONDERPOSTAMT (2019-11-08); PHILATELIE.SHOP (2019-11-08); VÖPH (2018-11-08); CHRISTKINDL 19 (2019-11-29); NUMIPHIL 2019 (2019-12-06); STILLE NACHT 19 (2019-12-08)

Christmas 2019 — Mistletoe (ATM Label)
08 November 2019

Austria: Christmas 2019 – Mistletoe (ATM label), 8 November 2019. Image from Colnect.

Date of Issue: 8 November 2019
Size: 43 x 25.5 mm
Colors: Multicolor
Perforation: Imperforate
Printing: Offset lithography
Gum: Ordinary
Face Value: Variable ct – Euro cent
Various Imprints: SONDERPOSTAMT (2019-11-08); PHILATELIE.SHOP (2019-11-08); VÖPH (2018-11-08); CHRISTKINDL 19 (2019-11-29); NUMIPHIL 2019 (2019-12-06); STILLE NACHT 19 (2019-12-08)

Christmas 2019 — Christkindl Post Office 70th Anniversary #1 (Self-Adhesive)
15 November 2019

Austria: Christmas 2019 – Christkindl Post Office 70th Anniversary, 15 November 2019. Image from Colnect.

Date of Issue: 15 November 2019
Size: 42 x 33.5 mm
Colors: Multicolor
Perforation: Serpentine Die Cut13¼
Printing: Offset lithography
Gum: Self-Adhesive
Face Value: 90 ct – Euro cent
Print Run: 600,000
Design: Agnes Steiner

Christmas 2019 – 70 Years of the Christkindl Post Office, Self-Adhesive
The Christkindl Pilgrimage Church

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Christkindl post office, Austrian Post is issuing two attractive stamps with different designs, both showing a wintry watercolour painting of the Christkindl pilgrimage church.

On this Christmas stamp with its modern design the number 70 is featured in the foreground, referencing the 70th season of the Christkindl post office which is being celebrated this year. With its wintry Christmas hues of blue and gold, the number frames the watercolour painting by retired bishop Dr. Reinhold Stecher showing the snow-covered Baroque pilgrimage church of Christkindl in Steyr, which is right next door to the post office.

Building of the church, also known as “Zum Christkindl unterm Himmel” (Of the Christ Child under the Skies), started in 1702 to plans by the Baroque master builder Carlo Carlone and was completed under Jakob Prandtauer. The small wax figure of the baby Jesus which Ferdinand Sertl, an inhabitant of Steyr, had placed in the spruce tree’s trunk in 1695 is today housed in a small shrine on the high altar above the gilt tabernacle in the shape of a globe.

The Christkindl Post Office

The Christkindl post office in Steyr opened its doors for the first time on 15th December 1950. At that time the improvised post office counter was housed in the church sacristan’s kitchen, where the dispatch clerk, Johanna Zeilinger, franked around 42,000 items of post with the first special Christkindl stamp. In its second year the post office moved into theneighbouring inn “Zur schönen Aussicht”, which today operates as the hotel and restaurant “Christkindlwirt”. Since then the Christkindl post office has been housed there in the Post Stube. Since 1951 not only domestic post but also items from abroad have been stamped there.

Austrian Post issued its first Christmas postage stamp in 1953. Every year, around 1.8 million letters and cards sent “via Christkindl” are sent to the Christkindl post office and there franked with the Christmas stamp or with the Three Kings stamp which is used between 27th December and 6th January. The Christkindl Christmas post office is also responsible for replying to the thousands of letters that children around the world send to the Christ Child.

Christmas 2019 — Golden Sams Crib
22 November 2019

Austria: Christmas 2019 – Golden Sams Crib, 22 November 2019.

Date of Issue: 22 November 2019
Size: 32.5 x 40 mm
Colors: Multicolor
Perforation: comb13½
Printing: Offset lithography
Gum: Ordinary
Face Value: 90 ct – Euro cent
Print Run: 1,000,000
Design: Kirsten Lubach

Christmas 2019 – Goldener Sams – Nativity Scene
The “Sams Nativity Scene”

The Christmas stamp shows carved figures of Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus from the historic Goldener Sams nativity scene in the Schlossmuseum Linz.

The nativity scene already has a long history. It was originally displayed at Christmas in the parish church of Bad Ischl in Upper Austria’s Salzkammergut region. It was subsequently acquired by Johann Bramberger from Bad Ischl, known locally as Sams, who gave the nativity scene a new home in his house at the foot of the Siriuskogel mountain. Bramberger was one of the first people from Bad Ischl to be awarded the gold medal for military valour during the First World War, earning him the nickname “Goldener Sams”. The nativity scene could be seen in Bramberger’s house “behind the Hundskogel”, as the Siriuskogel is still called by the locals, and before long the owner’s name became attached to the scene, which was henceforth referred to as the “Goldene Sams-Krippe hinterm Hundskogel”. In 1955 the Upper Austrian State Museum acquired the nativity scene and today it is on display in the Schlossmuseum Linz.

The Nativity Figures

The pastoral nativity scene includes more than 160 carved figures and a representation of the town of Bethlehem in the style typical for town houses in Bad Ischl in the mid-19th century. In its present configuration it is almost 4 metres wide and 1.45 metres deep. The figures date from the period between 1780 and 1860, the original figures having been added to repeatedly. This means that the scene can be changed to show, for example, the search for an inn, the murder of the innocents in Bethlehem or the adoration of the Three Kings with their large retinue. Even today, setting up the nativity figures is a carefully preserved family tradition in the Salzkammergut region, and is protected as part of our intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.

The nativity figures were made by local carvers from the region, but their names are not known. Carving nativity scenes, referred to as “Schnegern” in the Salzkammergut, was a popular way of earning extra income for forestry workers during the winter. Some of the individual figures have been painstakingly decorated. The shepherds are presented in the typical costume for the region and a careful look at many of the little scenes will reveal features from the local surroundings.

Christmas 2019 — Christkindl Post Office 70th Anniversary #2 (Gummed)
29 November 2019

Austria: Christmas 2019 – Christkindl Post Office 70th Anniversary, 29 November 2019. Image from Colnect.

Date of Issue: 29 November 2019
Size: 34.5 x 50 mm
Colors: Multicolor
Perforation: comb13¼
Printing: Offset lithography
Gum: Ordinary
Face Value: 80 ct – Euro cent
Print Run: 2,100,000
Design: Agnes Steiner

Christmas 2019 – 70 Years of the Christkindl Post Office Gummed
Christmas Stamp Designed by Bishop Stecher

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Christkindl post office, Austrian Post is issuing two attractive stamps with different designs, both showing a wintry watercolour painting of the Christkindl pilgrimage church.

The watercolour was painted by the former bishop of Innsbruck Dr. Reinhold Stecher, who was not only a philatelist but also an amateur painter, designing seven Christmas stamps for Austrian Post between 2005 and his death in 2013. This watercolour painting of Christkindl has already been used for the design for a Christmas stamp back in 2006.

Dr. Reinhold Stecher spent most of his life in his home region of Tyrol. He was an enthusiastic mountaineer, author, illustrator and painter, which is evident in the atmospheric designs of the Advent stamps which he created: “I am just adding a bit ofatmosphere to the mystery of Christmas. However, since there is no Christian festival which is more deeply embedded in the emotions of our society than Christmas, the little reminder on the corner of the envelope can play its part, because it is not just the letter but also our heart that sets off on a journey towards great peace.”

Christkindl is not only famous for its picturesque church, but also for its Christmas post office, which is this year celebrating 70 years of operation: the Christkindl post office in Steyr opened its doors for the first time on 15th December 1950. Since then millions of people have sent their Christmas post with the additional “via the Christkindl post office” postage stamp and had it stamped with that year’s special stamp. Thousands of letters written by children to the Christ Child are also answered in the post office.

“Zum Christkindl Unterm Himmel”

Meaning “Of the Christ Child under the Skies”, that is the alternative name of thepilgrimage church in Christkindl, a district of Steyr in Upper Austria. Legend tells that in 1695 Ferdinand Sertl from Steyr placed a wax figure of the baby Jesus in a hollow tree and prayed there to be healed. When he actually recovered his health, word spread quickly. Ever more people came on pilgrimages to the Christ Child in the tree. Soon a wooden chapel was built around the tree and in the 18th century the abbot of Garsten Abbey finally commissioned the building of the Baroque church we know today.

Christmas 2019 — Merry Christmas: Children with Sledge
29 November 2019

Austria: Christmas 2019 – Merry Christmas, Children with Sledge, 29 November 2019. Image from Colnect.

Date of Issue: 29 November 2019
Size: 42 x 33.5 mm
Colors: Multicolor
Perforation: Serpentine Die Cut13¼
Printing: Offset Lithography
Gum: Self-Adhesive
Face Value: 80 ct – Euro cent
Print Run: 2,000,000
Design: Anita Kern

Christmas 2019 – Children with Sledge
A Sledge Ride in the Snow

A nostalgic subject is featured on this self-adhesive Christmas stamp: two children are carrying a little fir tree home on their sledge ready to put it up in the parlour and decorate it as a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.

The children are having a lot of fun on their sledge ride: the boy is pushing the sledge, while the girl is holding the tree tightly to make sure they don’t lose it. They are wrapped up warmly in coats and hats, scarves, boots and thick stockings to keep out the cold.

The design on the stamp is taken from a coloured lithograph printed on a Christmas postcard in around 1900. In those days only a few people could afford to give big presents. A decorated tree, a festive meal and going to mass with the family were the highlights of Christmas Eve for many. If there was a special treat, then that was usually little culinary delights such as sweets, spicy Lebkuchen biscuits, or gilded nuts or apples on the tree –little festive delicacies that were otherwise rare.

Oh Christmas Tree!

The tradition of putting up a decorated tree at Christmas has a long history. Green branches symbolise fertility and the reawakening of nature. The Romans decorated their houses with laurel branches at the turn of the year to symbolise life. In nativity plays during the Middle Ages the tree represented the tree of paradise from which Eve plucked the apple. Over time the tree came to be decorated not just with apples, but also with sweets and other fruits, and gradually more luxuriously decorated fir trees were put up in places other than churches. A decorated Christmas tree became a Christmas tradition among both Protestants and Catholics, spreading to all levels of society during the 19th century and even spreading overseas as people emigrated.

When decorating the tree today there are no limits to what the imagination can produce –wherever you turn you see bright colours gleaming, sparklers sparkling and sweet treats inviting you to come and take a nibble. Alternatively, others decorate their trees with straw stars, pine cones and other natural materials.

These stamps and other products can be purchased from Post AG Online Shop or WOPA+ Stamps and Coins.