Through the unveiling of these four fresh stamps, the United States Postal Service commemorates the Day of the Dead, an increasingly embraced holiday within the United States.
Within each pane, you will find five rows that showcase four vibrant stamps, each portraying iconic elements of a traditional Day of the Dead ofrenda or offering. These stylized and adorned “sugar skulls” embody four family members, with each stamp representing a unique individual: a child with a hair bow, a father wearing a hat and mustache, a mother with curled hair, and another child. The illuminated candles adorning each sugar skull serve as guiding lights, leading departed loved ones on their annual journey back to the realm of the living. Marigolds (cempazuchitl), the most beloved flowers of the Day of the Dead, adorn the stamps with their presence, dotting each design and embellishing the vertical borders they share. Against a backdrop of a black canvas, the vibrant hues of the flowers and other intricate details, alongside the pure white of the sugar skulls, create a striking visual contrast.
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.