2015 is not the last year that you will be able to buy Christmas and other religious stamps at the post office.
That rumor started in September 2015 after the Daily Caller published an article that was headlined, “Is the Postal Service Declaring a War on Religion?” The article warned consumers to not expect new Christmas stamps this year because “for the first time in decades,” the United States Postal Service would not be issuing a new Christmas stamp depicting Christian religious figures or symbols:
In 45 of the last 50 years, the postal service has printed new images for each Christmas season, including Mary, angels, wise men, Nativity scenes, the Star of David and even Santa Claus. But this year, all of them have been banished from the production presses.
Four of the five years without new religious images came since the year 2000. The other was in 1977 under President Jimmy Carter.
Christians will have to settle for a new stamp series called “A Charlie Brown Christmas” — including Linus kneeling by a scrawny Christmas tree, Snoopy and children ice skating, Charlie Brown checking his mail box, Linus leaning on a snowy brick wall and Charlie Brown standing in front of Snoopy’s doghouse. There will be one with Charlie Brown and a Christmas tree.
From there, the rumor that 2015 would be the last year to buy Christmas stamps, and that the post office had declared war on Christmas, spread to social media sites. A November 12, 2015, Facebook post that had been shared thousands of times warned that this would be the last year for consumers to purchase religious Christmas stamps at the post office:
The Post Office said to please spread the word … so I am. I went to purchase my stamps for Christmas cards this year, she informed me this would be the last year we would ever be able to purchase religious stamps. The government has now made it to where the United States Post Office will no longer be allowed to sale religious stamps…
First, let’s take a look at the Daily Caller article that questioned whether the post office was declaring a war on religion by banning religious Christmas stamps. The claim that “four of the five years without religious images came since the year 2000” is false. A look back at the USPS stamp archive shows that new religious stamps were not issued in two years over that span: 2000 and 2005. In 2005, many post offices offered the 2004 Madonna and Child by Lorenzo Monaco stamp.
For years, the postal service released two sets of Christmas stamps each year. One would feature Christian symbols and features, and the other would feature non-religious holiday themes like snowflakes, for example.
USPS stamp services Director Mary-Anne Penner announced in August 2015 that the postal service planned to issue some sets of holiday stamps during alternating years, instead of annually, according to the website Linn’s Stamp News & Insights.
USPS spokesperson Mark Saunders later indicated that the reason for issuing some sets of Christmas stamps in alternating years was due to available inventory of stamps on hand. In a letter to the Daily Caller, Saunders wrote:
We have more than a half billion religious-themed holiday stamps in inventory and based on prior year’s purchases, that’s more than twice sold during a typical Holiday season.
Our decision to print select holiday-themed stamps every other year is a business decision based on supply and demand while serving the needs of our customers. Moreover, we have found that the popularity of Holiday Forever stamps – which are good for mailing a one ounce letter anytime in the future regardless of price changes – result in more stamps purchased at a time.
Saunders added that many customers had been mislead into believing that they would be unable to purchase religious holiday stamps in 2015, but that wasn’t the case. In the USPS online stamp shop, however, Saunders said you’ll find:
Religious-themed Forever holiday stamps available this year include: Christmas Magi; Eid; Hanukkah; Holy Family; Madonna of the Candelabra by Raphael; and, Virgin and Child by Jan Gosseart. Secular Forever stamps include: A Charlie Brown Christmas (available Oct. 1); Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer; Geometric Snowflakes (available Oct. 23); Winter Fun; Global Holiday: Silver Bells Wreath; Global Holiday: and Evergreen Wreath.
It’s true that the only new set of Christmas stamps released was “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t be able to buy religious Christmas stamps at the post office, nor that the post office has declared war on religion.
Update December 4 2020, 11:52 a.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. We can confirm, though, that not only is the USPS offering 2020 stamps commemorating Hannukah and Kwanzaa, but the Christian Nativity as well.