WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service Oct. 10 released a Christmas stamp featuring an image of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt.
A ceremony to celebrate the first day of issue of the stamp took place at the Washington National Cathedral of the Episcopal Church.
The portrayal of the Holy Family is a change from the traditional image of Madonna and child used almost every year since the first Christmas stamp was issued in 1962.
Louis Giuliano, a member of postal service’s Board of Governors, took a moment at the ceremony to acknowledge the reason for the 50-year tradition of religious stamps.
"The primary reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ," he said.
Since 1962, the religious stamp has been coupled with a secular one, featuring items such as tree ornaments, evergreens or nutcrackers.
The religious stamps have been mostly classical works of art depicting Mary and the infant Jesus.
This year, Giuliano said, the board decided to go with a different portrayal for the stamp, one he calls more contemporary. It is based on a passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew: "Out of Egypt I call my Son."
"It’s another part of the Christmas story," he said about the shift of design. "Forty-eight out of 50 years were the same type of image; we wanted to express a different part of the Christmas story."
Giuliano predicted the more contemporary art will appeal to a broader audience.