2012 45¢ Holy Family
Retelling the legend of the Three Wise Men who came to honor the baby Jesus is a Christmas tradition. Less known is the story of the Holy Family’s escape into Egypt after the Magi departed.
Upon hearing a new Jewish king had been born, King Herod of Judea sent the men to find the baby and bring it to him. But each of the wise men had a dream, one that warned them to avoid Herod and take a different route home. Incensed, the king ordered the “slaughter of the innocents,” in which every male child under the age of two was to be killed to eliminate the threat posed by his supposed rival for the crown, Jesus.
An angel also appeared to Joseph that night, warning him to flee to safety in Egypt with his wife and infant son, Jesus. Mary made the trip on a donkey with her baby in her arms and Joseph by her side, guided through the arid desert by a single star. The Holy Family found sanctuary in Egypt, returning home only after the death of King Herod.
It is possible to experience a remnant of the Holy Family’s journey even now. According to tradition, donkeys were mute until that evening. Herod’s soldiers approached as the family rested, and the donkey was unable to wake Joseph. It prayed for a loud voice to save the newborn king, and was granted the piercing bray donkeys are known for today.
Art director William Gicker, designer Greg Breeding, and artist Nancy Stahl worked together to create the artwork for this stamp, which pictures Joseph leading a donkey carrying Mary and baby Jesus under a shining star.
Value: 45¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate
Issued: October 10, 2012
First Day City: Washington, D.C.
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed By: Banknote Corporation of America, Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Offset
Die Cut 11
The first U.S. Christmas stamp was issued in 1962. Since then, there have been both religious and contemporary Christmas stamps issued each year. Most of the religious issues have pictured a classical version of the Madonna and Child. The U.S.P.S. decided to take a modern approach to the 2012 Holy Family stamp, inspired by the bible passage, “Out of Egypt I call my Son.”