Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!
Thou tree most fair and lovely!
The sight of thee at Christmastide
Spreads hope and gladness far and wide
Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree
Thou tree most fair and lovely!
Excerpt, O Tennembaum
Elegant and enchanting, lively and crisp, it’s hard to imagine the holiday season without the radiant glow of a Christmas tree. And did you know that this cherished tradition flourished from a history as rich and illustrious as the bells, baubles and tinsel that adorn our trees each year?
Thousands of years ago, when the well-being of entire cultures depended on the fruitfulness of the land, trees and other plant life were considered sacred. Evergreens were said to possess exceptional vitality and power, as they continue to survive and flourish when deprived of warmth and sunlight. It was a common pagan custom to use such greenery as décor during winter solstice celebrations, as these trees, wreaths and garlands were reminders of better times to come—the promise of new life in spring.
The Germanic people kept this custom alive for centuries and established Christmas tree decorating as we know it today. The tradition was introduced to England during the mid-1800s and popularized throughout North America by German and British immigrants around the same time. Early trees were lit with candles and decorated with apples, nuts, pastries, ribbon, and other homemade ornaments. Many millennia since the tradition began, evergreens continue to inspire the holiday season with feelings of hope and good cheer.
This November, Canada Post rings in the holiday season with a PERMANENT™ domestic rate stamp featuring a snow-covered Christmas tree. The stamp is part of a holiday series that includes a snowman (2005) and a reindeer (2007).
“To fit with the series, the Christmas tree stamp had to convey the same simplicity that characterized the first two,” explains designer Hélène L’Heureux. To accomplish this, L’Heureux combined bright colours with strong graphic shapes. “While simplicity and boldness grab attention, careful attention to detail adds elegance and captivates audiences.” To produce this effect, she tells us, “It’s all in the details: The tree was drawn with careful attention to the roundness of its snow-covered branches, which contrasts with the sharpness of the Christmas lights.” According to L’Heureux, creating harmony between the different features of the stamp is a complicated process, often a matter of trial and error. “Too many curved elements in the silhouette and you lose the roundness; it becomes a geographical map line. Too few and it resembles a childish drawing, too plain to seize attention.”
Like the two that preceded it, this stamp’s festive backdrop features a landscape of rolling hills and scattered snowflakes printed in clear holographic foil, which glitter in the light. Alain Leduc, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post, notes, “It’s the mixture of holographic foil and simple, upfront imagery and design that makes these stamps so interesting visually.” Interesting, indeed; the new stamp is elegant, graceful and stunning in its simplicity, promising a perfect touch to all your holiday greetings and warm wishes.