With the release of these four new stamps, the U.S. Postal Service celebrates the Day of the Dead, an increasingly popular holiday in the United States.
Each pane’s five identical rows include four colorful stamps featuring several iconic elements of a traditional Day of the Dead ofrenda or offering. Stylized, decorated “sugar skulls” are personalized as four family members, one per stamp: a child with a hair bow, a father is sporting a hat and mustache, a mother with curled hair, and another child. The lit candles flanking each sugar skull are beacons to guide deceased loved ones on their annual return journey to the land of the living. Dotting each stamp and adorning their shared vertical borders are marigolds (cempazuchitles), the most popular Day of the Dead flower. The vibrant colors of the flowers and other embellishments, along with the white of the sugar skulls, stand out brightly from the stamps’ black background.
With roots in pre-Columbian Latin America, Dia de Los Muertos resulted from meeting Indigenous traditions and practices introduced by the Catholic missionaries who arrived with the Spanish colonizers in the late 1500s. The modern version of the holiday rose out of the activism of the 1970s when Chicano artists in California saw it as a way to build pride in Mexican culture.
Today hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life flock to celebrations hosted each November by museums, galleries, and community centers. They are drawn by the exuberant processions, skeleton costumes and face painting, music, dancing, special food, and arts-and-crafts workshops, and by the ofrendas honoring not only departed family members but also heroes and celebrities.
It is no wonder that the Day of the Dead, with all its exuberant color, life-affirming joy, and appeal for the whole family, is fast becoming a popular American holiday.
Luis Fitch designed and illustrated the stamps. Antonio Alcalá was the art director.
The Day of the Dead stamps is being issued as Forever stamps. These Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.