How Waupaca made holiday history
Mayor designates Dec. 1 as Christmas Stamp Day
By James Card
At a city council meeting on Nov. 16, Mayor Brian Smith designated Dec. 1 as Christmas Stamp Day in Waupaca.
It turns out, the city of Waupaca had an enormous influence on a holiday tradition that is now common throughout the world.
In the 1950s, some countries issued postage stamps with a Christmas theme. Cuba was the first country to issue a Christmas stamp in 1951.
In 1958, Father Jules V. Simineau, a priest at the Blessed Sacrament Preparatory Seminary in Waupaca, received a Christmas card from Australia and the stamp portrayed a nativity scene.
At the time, the United States did not have any Christmas stamps. He decided to change that.
He contacted Father Michael S. Wasniewski, the priest at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. They teamed up with the Legion of Mary organization, Knights of Columbus, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Waupaca Common Council and Waupaca County Board.
The groups sent letters to the U.S. Post Office Department and other government officials, encouraging the issue of a Christmas stamp.
Their efforts caught the attention of U. S. Rep. Melvin R. Laird.
Laird was elected to office in 1952 and represented Wisconsin’s 7th District in central Wisconsin. He later served as Secretary of Defense under President Richard Nixon.
Laird called for the Post Office Department to issue a Christmas stamp featuring the nativity scene and that it be sold in Waupaca.
The office of the Postmaster General handled the request for the Christmas stamp and it was referred to a Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee.
In 1962, the first American Christmas stamp was issued and 862 million stamps were printed. They sold out immediately and Christmas stamps became a holiday tradition.