Celebrating Hanukkah, USPS-Style



You’ve recited selichot. You’ve blown the shofar. You’re doing your teshuvah. All that’s left is to get your final Jewish New Year card into the mail before you have to repent for missing the season. But which stamps should you use?

The history of the United States postage stamp is surprisingly short, and the history of the Jewish United States postage stamp shorter still.

Until 1842, mail was delivered in the United States without the use of postage stamps at all; usually the recipient of a letter or package paid the postman cash on delivery. In 1842, a private company offered adhesive stamps for the first time, and it was another five years before the first USPS stamps were offered for sale on July 1, 1847, in New York City, with Boston and other cities trailing just behind.

So when did Americans start to put Christmas stamps on their Santa cards? Not til 1962. The first Hanukkah stamp came along a whopping 34 years later, in a 1996 joint issue with Israel.

But none of that will get you far if you want to wish someone “Chag sameach,” stateside. Unless you live in Israel, you’re going to have to settle for Autumn apple stamps.

Recommended from JTA