Christmas Seals 


A Danish pioneer Einar Holboell (1865-1927) invented a Christmas seal in 1904 for the benefit of poor children. We still have a new seal every year since. The seal has no postal value but entirely used for raising money for charity related to needy children. Einar Holboell was a postal worker in the headquarter of the post office in Copenhagen at the time and later became the postmaster. From the start, the stamp was sold at the post offices. Those who worked there had an extra burden of work to do during the busy Christmas time.

The excerpt and most of the photos are taken from a page arslonga by Kirsten Gress about the history of the Christmas seal :

The Christmas seal was a Danish invention. In 1903 postmaster Einar Holboell expressed the idea that all packages could be supplied with Christmas seals, and the profit dedicated to giving sick children renewed hope. The world´s first Christmas seal was published on December 13th, 1904- the motif was a portrait of Queen Louise.

This year marks the 150 years from his birth. The extra voluntarily postage on the Christmas letters has helped thousands of children in need through the last 111 years. People today don’t write so many Christmas letters and cards as before so the special seal can be purchased as a digital seal or in the shape of other things than a seal or stamp.


Einar_Holbøll_by_Juncker-Jensen about 1902

His original idea was to collect money for a Foundlings’ hospital to help the foundlings survive. He was not supported in this idea as the opinion was that it would prompt young women to get children without being married.

The first many years the money helped to build sanatoriums for children suffering from lung tuberculosis. After the first world war also other children were helped. Due to bad housing and food, many were malnourished had anaemia and rachitis (lack of D vitamin). During the second world war, nervous children and children with behaviour difficulties got help in the special houses established from the Christmas Seal Foundation.

The Christmas Seal Sanatorium, Kolding Denmark 1908

The Christmas Seal Sanatorium, Kolding Denmark 1908

Since the 1970s the special children’s homes based on the Christmas Seal Foundation mostly help overweight and bullied children.  I had a friend in my youth who had been at such a children’s home twice because of underweight and anxiety, her father was mentally ill. I have helped some children to get a stay on one of these homes because of severe overweight in my time as a health visitor. Normally they lost about 10 kilos during their 3-month stay. The difficulty, however, is to keep up the weight loss after returning home.

The seal has been very different from each other. Those with the greatest appeal had something to do with Christmas and children.

The girl on the grass was something new. A proletarian family father with 11 children got the idea to send a photo of his little daughter Karina. To take a photo outside like that was not seen. His picture was chosen by Holboell.

Princess Margrthe 1942

Princess Margrethe 1942

Our present Queen Margrethe II is an artist and this year she has created the Christmas Seal for the third time.




1951 the year I was born

1951 the year I was born



H.C. Andersen’s paper cuts are used more than once

I link this post with two more on helping children. Handel’s Messiah and The Foundling Hospital and Coram Fields.


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