Christmas Seals are Cinderella Stamps?

At the end of yesterday’s post, Jeremy asked the question, “What are those scary ghost stories” in the song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Of course, I couldn’t resist the challenge.  In a search of the lyrics, I came across the revelation that the song, recorded by Andy Williams and written by Eddie Pola and George Wyle in 1963, was chosen as the theme song for the Christmas Seals in 1968 and 1976.

I was instantly sidetracked.  What exactly is a Christmas Seal?  It’s a form of a Cinderella Stamp (a stamp that is anything resembling a postage stamp, but not issued for postal purposes by a government).  The first Christmas Seals were issued in Denmark to raise money to fight tuberculosis.  There’s a wonderful article on the University of Virginia Health System website that explains the origin of the program in the United States, first issued in 1907.  the seals were placed in envelopes with this message:

Put this stamp with message bright
On every Christmas letter;
Help the tuberculosis fight,
And make the New Year better.
These stamps do not carry any kind of mail
but any kind of mail will carry them.

The American Lung Association (through time, the original fight against tuberculosis has evolved into the fight against all lung diseases)  holds the trademark for the Christmas and Easter Seals. Frankly, I never gave the extra stickers on envelopes mailed to me much thought before today, but the charity is important, and their fundraising network is now over 100 years old.  Each year, they choose a spokesperson.  In 2011, the spokesperson was Anika Noni Rose, a singer, actress and Tony Award winner, who has starred in hit films like Dreamgirls and Disney’s The Princess and the Frog and most recently has appeared on CBS’sThe Good Wife. She suffers from asthma.

Collecting Christmas Seals is now a popular pastime.  As one who formerly collected postage stamps, this idea intrigues me.