Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s oldest community putz—a unique Moravian display of miniature scenes and figurines in a home or church, which tells the biblical story surrounding the birth of Jesus—is honored on the 2012 Christmas City Seal.
The seal features an image from Central Moravian Church’s Christmas Putz, which celebrates is seventy-fifth anniversary this year. The holy family miniature scene (photographed by Moravian Magazine editor Mike Riess) was chosen to appear on the annual non-postage commemorative stamp.
Central Moravian’s putz is staged on a 12-by-24 foot wooden platform covered with a moss-laden landscape. Central’s putz joins several other elaborate putzes in the Bethlehem area that feature lights, music, narration and more. Many are open to the public.
The commemorative seal
The Citizens Christmas City Committee, a part of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, publishes the commemorative seals to decorate holiday season mail and promote Bethlehem as the Christmas City USA which was named by the chamber in 1937, the same year Bethlehem’s first community putz was started.
In addition to the Christmas City seals which are available in sheets of 24 stamps, the committee also prepares a collectible cacheted cover, a philatelic envelope which features the seal with a postmarked USPS holiday stamp. A special Christmas City cancellation features the belfry of Central Moravian Church and is dated for the Christmas City Tree Lighting ceremony where the collectible cover makes its debut. The day after Thanksgiving event marks the official start of the holiday season in Bethlehem.
Tim Gilman is a member of Edgeboro Moravian Church. He works with the Citizens Christmas City Committee on the annual seal and assisted Mike in the editing of the photo for reproduction.