The U.S. Postal Service Oct. 10 released a Christmas stamp featuring an image the Holy Family fleeing Egypt.
A ceremony to celebrate the first day of issue of the stamp took place at the Washington National Cathedral of the Episcopal Church.
The portrayal of the Holy Family is a change from the traditional image of Madonna and child used almost every year since the first Christmas stamp was issued in 1962.
Louis Guiliano, a member of postal service's Board of Governors, took a moment at the ceremony to acknowledge the reason for the 50-year tradition of religious stamps.
"The primary reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ," he said.
Since 1962, the religious stamp has been coupled with a secular one, featuring items such as tree ornaments, evergreens, or nutcrackers.
The religious stamps have been mostly classical works of art depicting Mary and the infant Jesus. This year, Giuliano said, the board decided to go with a different portrayal for the stamp, one he calls more contemporary. It is based on a passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew: "Out of Egypt I call my Son."
"It's another part of the Christmas story," he said about the shift of design. "Forty-eight out of 50 years were the same type of image, we wanted to express a different part of the Christmas story."
Giuliano predicted the more contemporary art will appeal to a broader audience.
Several artists collaborated on the Holy Family commemorative forever stamp. Art director William Gicker, designer Greg Breeding and artist Nancy Stahl have all worked on U.S. postage stamps before.
For more of stamps that are available this holiday season please see Christmas Postage Stamps.com