Across the country and around the world, a birthday is a welcome occasion for celebration and fun. Featuring the U.S. Postal Service’s first new Happy Birthday design in more than a decade, this stamp offers a chance to give envelopes and cards an additional touch of good cheer. It went on sale last week at Post Office locations nationwide and at the online Postal Store.
The celebration of birthdays in the United States has its origins in a wide array of cultural traditions. Some ancient civilizations observed the birthdays of prominent figures or celebrated rites of passage, and well-wishes and gifts have long been associated with bringing about good fortune. Folklorists and historians claim to see the origins of birthday parties in older practices that resemble our customs, such as candles on a cake, which existed in some form in both ancient Greece and early modern Germany. When we gather to sing, brighten our spirits with candles, and make a wish, these deeply rooted rituals connect us to loved ones and invite everyone to share in the birthday fun.
The U.S. Postal Service issued its first Happy Birthday stamp in 1987, when a stamp showing a candle on a slice of cake was part of a Special Occasions booklet that reflected a variety of greetings and well-wishes. In 1988, a second Special Occasions booklet included a Happy Birthday stamp that depicted a colorful row of candles. Birthdays reappeared as a subject on U.S. postage in 2002 with the issuance of a stamp featuring the words “Happy Birthday” amid a smattering of festive confetti.
In the years since, the Postal Service has issued several stamps on the theme of celebration. This new Happy Birthday stamp provides another way for the mailing public to convey good wishes on the recipient’s special day.
The word “HAPPY” appears most prominently in capital letters, with each of the five letters inspired by a different party decoration: a red and green piñata, an orange and yellow striped birthday hat, a red piece of frosted cake, a green birthday candle, and an orange balloon sculpture. The word “BIRTHDAY” appears below it in blue, with “Forever” and “USA” centered in smaller red lettering at the bottom. Surrounding all the design elements is a flurry of multicolored ribbons and confetti.
This stamp was designed by Lisa Catalone Castro and Rodolfo Castro, with artwork by Rodolfo Castro. Ethel Kessler served as art director.
The Happy Birthday stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp, which is always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.