The first Australian Christmas stamps, 1957

In 1957 Australia issued Christmas stamps for the first time. This was intended to be an experiment, but following favourable public reaction, it was decided to issue Christmas stamps annually.

The design of the 1957 Christmas stamp, issued on 6 November 1957 and designed and engraved by Donald Cameron (based on a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds), depicts a child at prayer and the star of Bethlehem, emphasizing the spiritual significance of Christmas.

Christmas stamps have been issued by Australia every year since 1957, a longer period of time than any other country in the world. Previously, some countries issued stamps featuring Christmas themes, including Austria (1937, 1953 & 1954) and Cuba (1951 & 1952), although these stamp issues did not become regular recurring issues, at the time.

Other countries to introduce Christmas stamps following Australia’s example include New Zealand (1960), United States (1962), Canada (1964) and Great Britain (1966). Every year since 1975, a lower rate of postage than basic letter postage has applied to greeting cards mailed in Australia during November and December.

Purple 4d stamp from Christmas 1957, showing a young girl on her knees praying to a far off star.