Although Austria is sometimes credited with issuing the first Christmas stamps, there are different opinions about this.

In 1898 Canada issued a stamp that bears the inscription"Xmas 1898", but it was really intended to mark the inauguration of the "Imperial Penny Postage" rate. It was the product of quick thinking. William Mulack (Postmaster General) was proposing, that it should be issued on November 9, to honour the Prince (meaning the Prince of Wales), but when Queen Victoria asked in a displeased manner: "What Prince ?", he realised the danger and quick as a flash said: "Why the Prince of Peace, ma'am".

Canada issues regular Christmas stamps since 1964.

On December 12 1937 Austria Post released 2 special stamps in a common design of a rose and the signs of the zodiac. There was however no inscription to indicate the special use of these stamps. It is said that they were intended to be used on birthday congratulation cards, but it is from the issue date of these stamps, that it seems that they are intended for all greeting cards, including Christmas and NewYear.

The first stamps to depict the Nativity, were the Hungarian issue of 1943. Hungary did not follow this up with regular Christmas issues until 1988.

This 1958 Austrian stamp depicts the Church of Christkindl, which is a town in Upper Austria, close to Styria. It is here that Austria Post set up a post office in 1950 with the purpose of adding a Christmas postmark to mail items. It was a small beginning, but it now handles a tremendous amount of Chritmas mail.

Three years later Austria issued a special Christmas stamp (1953), depicting a child and Christmas tree, in green. They did repeat the same issue the next year, but this time in blue. It was not until 1967, that Austria issued Christmas stamps annually.

This is a Christmas cover that was sent from Christkindl on December 12 1965, before there were regular Christmas stamps.

This was a Christkindl cancellation of 1979.

The cancellations of 1976,1977 and 1978.

This cover is from 2004 and shows the golden seal of Christkindl post office

Two years later and this cover carries besides the seals of the Christkindl post office also the two Christmas stamps that were issued that year.

On the left we see two private first day covers, posted through the Christkindl post office, while the simple one on the right is an official one, posted in Vienna.

Now feast your eyes on the beautiful Christmas stamps that Austria issued up until 2006 !

To conclude my story of Austria and Christmas, I like to point out that our most famous Christmas carol "Silent Night" comes from Austria.

It was sung for the first time in the tiny hamlet of Obernhof in 1818. According to legend, the church organ had broken down and the local priest asked his friend Franz Gruber to compose a tune for a short song, that he had written. Franz Gruber adapted the tune for guitar and "Silent Night" was born.

The postage stamp that was issued for its 150 year anniversary, shows the crib in the Memorial Chapel in Obernhof, Salzburg.

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