The Royal Mail’s Christmas stamps this year have been inspired both by the Nativity and by the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
The stamps, which will adorn millions of Christmas cards and letters in the run-up to the big day, tell key moments from the Christmas story complete with Scripture references underneath them.
On the First Class stamp there is a picture of Mary and the Baby Jesus, while Joseph is visited by the Angel on the Second Class stamp.
The seven stamps in the series are inspired by verses from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and recognise that 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
Royal Mail’s festive mailbag is expected to be bulging with around two billion items – and on its busiest days, around 130 million items will enter Royal Mail’s delivery network, more than double the average daily number.
And the posties are encouraging you to help them by correctly addressing your envelopes.
Stephen Agar from Royal Mail says: “Christmas stamps help deliver festive messages of good cheer and celebration across the UK and around the world. This year’s stamps feature scenes from the Nativity, together with the Gospel references from the King James Bible which inspired them.
“As we start the Christmas countdown, we are encouraging people to check their address lists include the full postcode and to get set to post their card, and order their presents early to help us spread the workload of handling around two billion items in the run up to Christmas.”
The First and Second Class stamps are available in two sizes: a standard version for regular letters and a ‘large letter’ version for larger cards and mail.
Three other Christmas stamps depict Baby Jesus in the manger (68p stamp), the shepherds being visited by the Angel (£1.10) and the wise men and star (£1.65).
Royal Mail is encouraging customers to post their festive greetings early, and order their online gifts and shopping well in advance, to help its postmen and women deliver the bumper festive mailbag.
Its latest recommended posting dates for mail to arrive in time for Christmas are:
Posting dates for delivery within the UK:
First Class Tuesday 20th December
Second Class Saturday 17th December
Special Delivery Thursday 22nd December
Posting dates for international mail:
Airmail to South and Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Far East (except Japan), Asia, New Zealand and Australia: Monday 5th December
Airmail to Japan, USA, Canada and Eastern Europe: Friday 9th December
Monday 12th December