This year The Bahamas Post Office has released a set of four bright and vibrant stamps depicting plants associated with Christmas.
Many plants were originally used in pre-Christian times as part of the winter solstice celebrations, celebrating new growth and warding off evil spirits. When Christianity came to Western Europe, many wanted to continue using the plants for decorations, giving them new Christian meanings.
15c Caribbean Pine
Fir, Pine and Yew trees are evergreen and so signify everlasting life with God. Being commonly used for Christmas trees they are especially associated with the celebration of Christmas. In fact their branches have been used to decorate homes for thousands of years, a reminder of the imminent arrival of spring. The use of whole trees is more recent with the first documented use dating back to 1441. By the 1830’s the tradition had arrived in Britain where Prince Albert popularised them when he had a tree set up at Windsor Castle.
The Caribbean or Bahamas Pine is considered “vulnerable” as pests have attacked trees in Turks and Caicos Islands meaning that a similar pest attack or hurricane in the Bahamas could seriously reduce the total number of trees.
The prickly leaves represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified, the berries being the drops of blood that were shed by Jesus because of the thorns.
In pagan times, Holly was thought to be a male plant and Ivy a female plant. An old tradition from the Midlands of England says that whichever was brought into the house first tells you whether the man or woman of the house would rule that year! But it was unlucky to bring either into a house before Christmas Eve.
Poinsettia plants are native to Central America, where they flower during the winter.
The poinsettia became widely known because of Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first Ambassador from the USA to Mexico in 1825. Poinsett had some greenhouses on his plantations in South Carolina, and while visiting the Taco area in 1828, he became very interested in the plants. He immediately sent some of the plants back to South Carolina, where he began growing them and sending them to friends and botanical gardens.
It is thought that they became known as Poinsettia in the mid-1830s when people found out who had first brought them to America from Mexico.
The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red coloured leaves symbolize the blood of Christ, the white leaves represent his purity.
Ivy has to cling to something to support itself as it grows. This reminds us that we need to cling to God for support in our lives. In Germany, it is traditional that Ivy is only used outside and a piece tied to the outside of a Church was supposed to protect it from lightning!
FDC Christmas Wreath
The hanging of circular evergreen wreaths could date back to Roman times, a symbol of wealth, status and victory. The word 'wreath' comes from the Old English word 'writhen' which means to writhe or twist.
Designer: Andrew Robinson
Printer: Lowe-Martin Group
Process: Stochastic Lithography
Perforation: 12.85 per 2cms
Stamp size: 28 x 42mm
Sheet Layout: 20 (2 x 10)
Release Date: 30 October, 2017
Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd