US #5250 - "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas"
2017 49c Christmas Carols
Value: 49¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate- Forever
Issued: October 5, 2017
First Day City: New York, NY
Type of Stamp: Special
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Format: Double Sided Booklet of 20
Quantity Printed: 11,250,000 stamps
Santa Claus is a widely popular symbol of Christmas. However, many may not know he is based on a real person – Saint Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas was born in the 14th century to wealthy Christian parents. They died in an epidemic when he was young and he moved in with his Uncle Nicholas – a bishop. Young Nicholas was deeply religious and took to heart the readings and teachings of Jesus. He began using his inheritance to anonymously assist the sick and needy. Although he left gifts down chimneys at night, a few found out he was behind the generosity. Nicholas begged for them to keep it a secret because he didn’t want the attention on himself.
In the Middle Ages, French nuns began leaving pouches of coins, food, and treats in the homes of the needy at night. When asked where these gifts came from, the nuns would simply say “it must have been Saint Nicholas.” This inspired the anonymous gift giving as well as all the carols.
The song “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” comes from a poem written by Emily Huntington Miller. Her poem was published as “Lilly’s Secret” in December 1865. The poem was later set to James Lord Pierpont’s 1857 melody of “Jingle Bells.”
Saint Nicholas has inspired the world with his generosity, which continues every Christmas season.