Christmas Seals

Christmas Seals

Many people embellish the Christmas cards, letters, and packages they send during the holiday season with special, decorative stamps called Christmas seals. Although the seals have no value as postage, the money collected in return for them supports various charitable causes. A Danish postmaster came up with the idea for Christmas seals around the turn of the twentieth century. Since then, they have spread to dozens of countries around the world, including the United States.

Danish postmaster Einar Holbøll designed the first mass-produced Christmas seals in 1904. The post office sold four million of the decorative stamps that year, giving birth to a new Danish Christmas tradition. Jacob Riis, an emigrant to the United States, publicized the success of Denmark's Christmas seals in an American magazine article. In 1907 Emily Bissel, a Red Cross worker, adopted the idea of selling Christmas seals as a way of raising money for the Red Cross in Wilmington, Delaware. Her success led other organizations to issue Christmas seals the following year, and soon the idea spread across the country. In 1919 the National Tuberculosis Association, which later became the American Lung Association, cornered the market on Christmas seals, becoming the sole issuer of the decorative Christmas stamps in the United States. Today the seals earn millions of dollars a year for the American Lung Association.

Further Reading

Del Re, Gerard, and Patricia Del Re. The Christmas Almanack. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979. Ross, Corinne. Christmas in Scandinavia. Chicago: World Book, 1977.
References in periodicals archive ?
Her tuberculosis fundraising evolved into the highly successful Christmas Seals program.
These greeting seals used by other anti-tuberculosis associations over the world were commonly known as Christmas seals in other parts of the world.
The ALA's time-honored Christmas Seals tradition helps the campaign and more than half of the organization's revenue comes in the year's fourth quarter.
The annual Christmas Seals Campaign, raising millions of dollars in its fight against lung disease, is sponsored by the oldest U.
VAN NUYS - When Sue Spears inherited her great aunt's collection of American Lung Association Christmas Seals, she faithfully upheld the tradition for years.
The popular Christmas Seals campaign is under way, she says, and it accounted for 75 percent of the nearly $500,000 raised statewide during the past fiscal year.
Christmas seals sold by the Rotary Club and handcrafted products sold at an annual bazaar and at retail outlets in local markets also help with the center's financing.
Health crusaders inundated the nation with a flood of antituberculosis propaganda, Christmas seals became a fixture of national fund raising, novelists and playwrights turned the disease into plots for imaginative literature, and charlatans converted the fright an fever into ill-gotten gains.
Current beneficiaries include Toys for Tots, Angel Trees, Salvation Army - Red Kettles, Trees for Troops, Make-A-Wish Foundation and American Lung Association - Christmas Seals.
The Lung Association, with its Christmas seals, long ago lost the monopoly on envelope stickers.
The American Lung Association offers Christmas Seals to honor or memorialize individuals, featuring a choice of online card designs and customizable text.
The American Lung Association's activities are supported by Christmas Seals and Chanukah and Kwanzaa e-Greetings, along with other voluntary contributions.