Each year, PostNL issues new December stamps, which can be used by consumers and companies to send each other Christmas and New Year cards at a reduced rate. The special December rate of €0.96 per stamp is valid from 13 November 2023 until 6 January 2024. This year, a sheet of 20 December stamps costs € 19.20.
When purchasing two sheets of December stamps at the store, each customer will receive a free gift: a Christmas ornament especially designed for PostNL by Vondels. This year’s ornament is in the shape of a dog with a letter in its mouth, derived from one of the illustrations on the December stamps. The illustrations for the 2023 December stamps were created by illustrator Linde Faas from Tromsø, Norway.
The stories on this year’s December stamps are set in the far north. Dutch illustrator Linde Faas lives and works in Norway and draws a world full of magic and wonder. The special colours of the northern lights and the grandeur of the landscape create winter scenes full of atmosphere. People and animals enjoying new memories together and the happiness found in little things. Everywhere you discover surprising details, like in the vapour above the tea glass, next to the owl on the branch, around the bear in the forest and by the envelope with December mail.
The 2023 December stamps feature the following December illustrations: a festively set table with magical scenes in a steaming Christmas drink, people and animals watching falling stars together, a house under the northern lights with footsteps in the snow, a cat and a dog with a letter behind the window, a tree branch with an owl with birds and presents, a rabbit with an envelope with magical contents, people and animals decorating a Christmas tree together, a hedgehog in the snowstorm with a tall pile of presents, a bear surrounded by Christmas trees with birds as Christmas decorations and an animal parade with lights.
All typography on the December stamps and on the sheet edge was handwritten by Linde Faas. The back of the December stamp sheet features a description of what Linde wants to achieve with her illustrations. It also explains how to use the December stamps. Near the text area on the back is an illustration of a snowy winter forest.
The 2023 December stamps were designed by Dutch illustrator Linde Faas from Tromsø, Norway. She didn’t have to think long when PostNL approached her. ‘Of course I wanted to! I follow Geertje Aalders and Miriam Bos on Instagram, for example, who also made December stamps. I love their work. Back then, I was secretly thinking how great it would be if I could get to do this myself. During the first conversation with PostNL, all sorts of images immediately came to mind, typically northern scenes in typically northern light. I then wrote down a list of possible topics. Little stories, with the occasional sketch added in pencil. I later elaborated all that into larger sketches. Together with PostNL, the list was pared down to the 10 illustrations that are now featured on the December stamps. I worked out a few ideas in full colour, so everyone could see what the end result would be. With me, the beginning is always the hardest. The stage when anything is still possible and you have to reduce all your ideas to their essence. Once the choices are made, the elaboration follows organically. Then I get totally absorbed in making the image. So it really feels like I’m in the middle of the world of the illustration I’m currently working on.’
Linde has lived in Norway since 2017, which has influenced her illustration style. This is also visible in the illustrations for the December stamps. ‘I think the month of December is a beautiful time, full of magic and wonder,’ she says. ‘There is always snow here then. Also unusual is the fact that the sun doesn’t rise for months. Because of this the colours are very different, very special. Together with the winter landscape, everything I dreamed of as a child comes together. I was already completely happy when even a thin layer of snow fell in the Netherlands. Then I fantasised that I could disappear into a vast forest. In Norway, my dream came true. Including a small cottage in the middle of the woods.’
Nose against the window
Elements of her own life recur in Linde’s northern fantasy world, such as the forest cottage. ‘Our cottage has just such a window through which the cat and the dog are looking out on one of the December stamps. I like to do that myself too. With my nose against the window, hoping for moose to pass by. The bear among the trees also looks like me. I love walking through the forest by myself when there is a thick blanket of snow and the branches of the trees are bending down towards the ground. And the shooting stars? As a child, I could spend hours peering at the night sky in the hope of seeing a shooting star.’
Nature is an important source of inspiration for Linde. On the December stamps, this is reflected in part by the important role of the landscape, alongside the people and animals depicted. Linde: ‘If at all possible, I try to go out into nature to draw what I see around me in a beautiful place. The focus on the landscape has another dimension. Namely, how much we can still discover in that big world around us, how much we are part of it and how big an influence it has on us. Including on me. For example, my use of colour has changed since we’ve lived in Norway, also influenced by the northern lights. The December stamps feature the winter colours of the far north, with lots of blue, pink and purple. I also used a lot of yellow and orange in the illustrations to convey a feeling of light and warmth.’
Each December stamp features a little story, a snapshot in a larger winter narrative. ‘The storytelling has to excite,’ says Linde. ‘This is how I hope to make people curious, making them pay extra attention to the stamps. The rabbit, for example, opens an envelope that emits the colourful magic. Who could the envelope be from and what might it contain? That’s always a surprise. For me December is a time of togetherness, of happiness found in little things, of sharing moments and making new memories. Decorating the tree together, watching shooting stars together. That’s why you also see footsteps heading towards the cottage in the northern lights. Everyone is visiting each other. The hedgehog is still alone. But he has a lot of presents with him since he is on his way to visit family and friends.’
About the designer
Linde Faas (Zeist, 1985) studied animation at the St. Joost School of Art & Design (Akademie voor Kunst en Vormgeving St. Joost) in Breda. In 2008, she graduated cum laude with her drawn animation film According to the Birds (Volgens de vogels), which won several international awards. After completing her studies, she established herself as an independent animator of cartoons, artist and illustrator of children’s books. Linde creates book illustrations for (children’s) book authors such as Griet op de Beeck, Paul Biegel, Tonke Dragt, Pieter Koolwijk and Rindert Kromhout. She also wrote several books with her own text and drawings, including I’ll take you with me (Ik neem je mee ) (2018), The Boy and the Whale (De jongen en de walvis) (2019), Where is Big Brother (Waar is Grote Broer) (2021) and Somewhere in the Snow (Ergens in de sneeuw) (2022). Linde Faas has lived and worked in Tromsø, Norway, since 2017.
The 2023 December stamps will be available starting on 13 November 2023 at all PostNL sales outlets in the Netherlands and through the webshop. The stamps can also be ordered by phone from the Collect Club customer service on +31 (0)88 868 99 00. The validity period is indefinite, but the December stamps can only be used on their own from 13 November 2023 through 6 January 2024. This year, a sheet of 20 December stamps costs € 19.20.
The December stamps with the special rate are intended for use on mail weighing up to 50g and on envelopes with minimum dimensions of 14 x 9 cm that are destined for delivery in the Netherlands from 13 November 2023 through 6 January 2024. Two December stamps are enough for mail weighing up to 50g destined for delivery to addresses outside the Netherlands.
- Stamp size 26.5 x 29 mm
- Sheet size 144 x 151 mm
- Paper normal with red phosphor print
- Glue self-adhesive
- Printing technique offset
- Printing colours cyan, magenta, yellow and black
- Print run 3,250,000 sheets
- Appearance sheet of 20 stamps with 10 different designs
- Illustrations and design Linde Faas, Tromsø (Norway)
- Printing company Koninklijke Joh. Enschedé B.V., Haarlem
- Item number 431461
Issue: 2023 December stamps
Date of issue: 13 November 2023
Appearance: sheet of 20 December stamps in 10 different designs, with a special December rate for destinations in the Netherlands
Item number: 431461
Illustrations and design: Linde Faas, Tromsø (Norway)
© 2023 Koninklijke PostNL BV