Slovenia is issuing stamps on Christmas since 1999. Writing to Baby Jesus has become popular with the public and many of us traditionally connect it with the pre-Christmas period. Not only children, but adults as well, can send their Christmas wishes to Baby Jesus at the address “999 99 Jezisko” (Baby Jesus).
Slovenska posta assists with the delivery of all consignments addressed to Baby Jesus to the post office in Rajecka Lesna, where Christmas Mail resides. There is also situated the official post box of Baby Jesus. At the same time, Slovenska posta delivers a response from Baby Jesus to everyone who writes a return address on their mail.
Christmas Mail in Rajecka Lesna can be visited throughout the year and thus, it is possible to experience the Slovak Christmas atmosphere in any season of the year.
During the previous 14 years, almost 1,250,000 letters were delivered to the address of the Slovak Baby Jesus. Hundreds of letters are also delivered from foreign countries, especially from the Czech Republic, Germany, Taiwan, Romania, England and Russia, USA, China, Israel and New Zealand as well. Baby Jesus also answers letters from abroad, and replies to blind and partially sighted children in Braille.
The 15th jubilee year of Christmas Mail is connected with the issuing of the postage stamp “Christmas Mail”. The postage stamp is based on a drawing by Erika Korkovanova from Kolarovo who won the children contest for the most beautiful drawing for Baby Jesus. Almost 5,800 drawings were sent to the contest announced during the previous year of Christmas Mail.
This new coil stamp by Austrian post has been created to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of the composer Franz Xaver Gruber, who wrote the world’s most widely known Christmas carol: “Silent Night”. On 24 December 1818, this carol was first performed publicly, at the Saint Nicholas church in Oberndorf.
Franz Xaver Gruber (25 November 1787 – 7 June 1863), was an Austrian primary school teacher and church organist in the village of Arnsdorf. At the same time he was organist and choirmaster at St Nicholas Church in the neighboring village of Oberndorf bei Salzburg and then in later years moved on to Hallein, Salzburg.
Together with Joseph Mohr, a Catholic priest who wrote the original German lyrics, Gruber composed the music for the Christmas carol Silent Night. On Christmas Eve of 1818, Mohr, an assistant pastor at St Nicholas, showed Gruber a six-stanza poem he had written in 1816. He asked Gruber to set the poem to music. The church organ had broken down so Gruber produced a melody with guitar arrangement for the poem. The two men sang “Stille Nacht” for the first time at Christmas Mass in St Nicholas Church while Mohr played guitar and the choir repeated the last two lines of each verse.
In later years, Gruber composed additional arrangements of the carol for organ and for organ with orchestra, as well as scores of other carols and masses, many of which are still in print and sung today in Austrian churches.
The stamp depicts a portrait of Gruber and the illuminated “Silent Night” Chapel in the pretty snowy Salzburgian Oberndorf.