The ornaments were made in 1999 in Lauscha, Germany, for D. Blumchen & Company of Ridgewood, NJ, and were hand-painted by designer Diane S. Boyce.
The four stamps feature photographs by Sally Andersen-Bruce, depict painted glass Santa ornaments. Nestled in tissue paper, these shiny Santas evoke happy memories of lights, tinsel and other favorite Christmas tree decorations.
Christmas trees began as a German tradition and were originally adorned with edible treats such as fruits, nuts and cookies. In the mid-19th century, glassblowers in Lauscha, Germany, began creating colorful molded glass ornaments for trees. Their designs included bells, trumpets, stars, angels and Santas, as well as glass versions of the familiar food decorations. During Queen Victoria's reign, Christmas trees with glass ornaments became popular in England, and by the 1890s the glass ornament tradition had spread to the United States.
After World War II many Americans preferred mass-produced decorations made from modern materials, but in the 1980s there was a revival of interest in old-fashioned glass ornaments. Today glassblowers in Germany use antique molds to create new ornaments with traditional designs.
Santa Claus continues to be a favorite subject for Christmas-tree ornaments. The story of Santa started with Saint Nicholas, a fourth century bishop in Asia Minor. Saint Nicholas was considered a generous gift giver and protector of children, and over time his reputation flourished throughout Europe. Eventually the legend of Saint Nicholas became intertwined with the Christmas holiday. When the Dutch landed in the New World in 1624, they named Saint Nicholas -- Sinterklaas in Dutch -- as their patron. In America the Dutch legend of Sinterklaas merged with the English tradition of Father Christmas, creating the character that we know today as Santa Claus.