Secular scenes put a stamp on Christmas
THE Royal Mail is facing calls to redesign its religious Christmas stamps, as it emerged they are now being outsold by those with scenes of snow and Father Christmas.
Six in 10 festive stamps bought now feature secular scenes, up from around four in 10 five years ago, the National Federation of SubPostmasters said. Experts said that the religious designs tended to be more serious, with this year’s featuring the Madonna and Child.
Tim Dieppe, head of public policy at Christian Concern, said: “It is disappointing. Perhaps secular stamps portray the Christmas story in a more glamorous way.”
RELIGIOUS Christmas stamps have been overtaken in sales by the secular variety, leading to calls for the Royal Mail to revamp its designs.
Around six in 10 festive stamps bought by members of the public are now secular ones, up from around four in 10 five years ago, the National Federation of SubPostmasters said.
Experts said the Royal Mail’s religious stamps tended to be more serious and less glamorous in their design than non-religious stamps, potentially contributing to their decline in popularity among letter senders hoping to garner festive cheer.
Tim Dieppe, head of public policy at Christian Concern, said: “There’s much in the Christmas story that could be visual. You’ve got the kings, the shepherds, the manger, the appearances of the angels.
“There is much to be creative with in the Christmas story. I don’t know whether it is because the artists for secular stamps are better and more creative than those designing the reli- gious ones. It is disappointing. Perhaps secular stamps portray the Christmas story in a more glamorous way.”
Every year the Royal Mail designs a new set of stamps, alternating between religious and secular. Post offices aim to supply both types of stamps to give customers a choice between the two.
The religious stamps on offer this year were designed in 2017 and feature the Madonna and Child. The secular ones show families posting letters through red postboxes in the snow.
Meanwhile, a number of customers have complained of a shortage of religious stamps at their local post offices and shops, suggesting too few may have been made available.
One customer resorted to buying them online from Royal Mail, resulting in him paying £1.45 postage on postage stamps.
Another customer who was unable to buy religious stamps said: “Clearly the Royal Mail is determined to take Christ out of Christmas.”
The Royal Mail denied any issues with supply and said it was up to shops and Post Offices to request more religious stamps if they had run out.
To ensure cards arrive before Christmas Day the Royal Mail recommends posting dates of Dec 18 for second class, Dec 20 for first class and Dec 22 for special delivery.
An investigation by The Telegraph recently revealed that reused first and second-class stamps are being sold online. The Royal Mail says it is a “crime to knowingly use counterfeit or reused stamps to avoid paying Royal Mail the full amount required”.
This year’s Madonna and Child design
Religious postage stamps are proving less popular than stamps showing Father Christmas and secular snowy scenes