2014 49¢ Christmas Magi
Only one of the four holy gospels tells of the Magi, or wise men, who visited the infant Jesus in Bethlehem, but it is one of the most well-known stories of the Bible. The Gospel of Matthew describes visitors “from the east” following a rising star in search of a child prophesied to be the son of God. They find the child in Bethlehem and offer him the three famous gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
All three items were of great value at that time. Gold, a precious metal, brought wealth and status. Frankincense, a perfume, also had medicinal uses such as arthritis relief. And myrrh, used as anointing oil or as an embalming fluid, was also an effective salve.
More importantly, each gift also holds spiritual meaning: Gold represents Jesus’ divinity and kingship on Earth, frankincense symbolizes his holiness, and myrrh refers to his eventual suffering and death.
The legend of these meaningful presents and the Magi who brought them remains a significant part of the Christmas story. It was the wise men’s generosity that established the holiday gift-giving tradition known in Western Christianity today, a custom celebrated by millions each December.
U.S. #4945 was created by Nancy Stahl, the same artist who designed the 2012 Holy Family stamp.
The U.S. Postal Service issued its first Christmas stamp in 1962. In 1966, a traditional Christmas stamp was introduced in addition to a contemporary design. These stamps have become holiday traditions ever since.
49¢ Christmas Magi, issued to satisfy the first-class mail rate
Issue Date: November 19, 2014
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed By: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Lithographed in sheets of 160, with eight booklet panes of 20 per sheet
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 10 ¾ X 11