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2003

World-famous Christmas post office opens on 29 November 2003

Pressemeldung from 28.11.2003

Here we go again: on 29 November 2003,  the world-famous seasonal post office at Christkindl in Upper Austria will opens its doors again for the 54th time in a row.
And once again, about two million items will pass through the Christkindl post office until 6 January 2004 to get the coveted postmark.

Christmas 2003 - special postage stamp and special postmarks available as of 28 November
The special issue “Weihnachten 2003” is available from 28 November 2003. This year, the stamp features the birth of Christ as depicted on the stained glass window in the parish church of Hohenems. The Austrian National Printing office has produced ten million copies of this special issue stamp, which was designed by Werner Pfeiler.
And once again, there are two different special postmarks available at the Christkindl post office.
From the opening day until 26 December 2003, a postmark bearing a nativity scene design is used, while one with a Three Magi motif will be applied from 27 December 2003 until 6 January 2004. Both postmarks indicate the date, the name “Christkindl”, and the zip code “4411”.
 
www.christkindl.at - Christkindl post office goes Internet
You can also visit the Christkindl post office on the World Wide Web at www.christkindl.at. This virtual post office provides a host of information and service offerings related to Christmas.
 
Xmas mail for children from all over the world
Every year, uncountable children from all over the world mail their Christmas wishes to the Christkindl post office. And the Christkind, who, in Austria, brings the gifts on Christmas Eve, writes back to them: Each letter gets a reply containing a little extra surprise for free.

Opening times

 28 November 2003  10.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
 29 November 2003 until 23 December 2003   9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
 24 December 2003      9.00 a.m. to 12 noon
 25 December 2003 until 30 December 2003  9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
  31 December 2003      9.00 a.m. to 12 noon
  1 January 2004 to 5 January 2004    9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
 6 January 2004       9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.

    
The origin of a successful idea
The history of the ”Christkindl” post office


Realizing the potential that lay in a place name like Christkindl, the Austrian postal administration decided in 1950 to open a seasonal post office during the pre-Christmas season with the purpose of applying a special Christmas design cancel to mail posted there.
Already in the first year, the Christkindl post office had to handle 42 000 items, in spite of the fact that only domestic mail was accepted.
Encouraged by the unexpected success of this venture, the seasonal post office quickly became an established institution. Given the flood of mail, the tiny office housed in the parish threatened to burst at the seams. That is why the office was moved into the inn located close to the church, with the premises being equipped and decorated to suit the festive occasion.
In the second year of its existence, the Christkindl post office also started to handle international mail, with the result that these special seasons greetings from Austria quickly became an internationally sought after postal ”specialty”.

Austria’s Christmas post office - well-known and well-liked all over the world
Since 1951, all post offices in Austria offer the “ÜBER CHRISTKINDL” routing label. The color of the paper used is turquoise, the words “ÜBER CHRISTKINDL” as well as the frame surrounding it are golden.
Each year, more and more postal items were sent via the hamlet of Christkindl, which is located close to the Upper Austrian town of Steyr. During the past 53 years, the cancel came down about 78 million times on postal items handled by the postal administration’s “heavenly workshop”.
Even though right from the beginning the special postmark featured a new Christmas design every year, regrets were voiced that the Austrian postal administration did not issue a special Christmas postage stamp. In 1958 therefore the first attempt was made to remedy this situation. A stamp from the ”Architectural monuments in Austria” issue that showed a representation of the Christkindl church became valid for franking on the day the post office opened. Five years later the first special ”Christmas” postage stamp was issued, and ever since 1967 the first day of issue of the annual Christmas postage stamp has coincided with the opening day of the Christkindl post office.

Volume of items handled - new record figures year on year
The Christmas postage stamp, special postmark, and first day postmark from the opening day count among the favorite collector’s items of international philatelists.
Year after year, the seasonal post office reports new record figures. Already in 1955 an impressive half a million postal items were recorded as passing via the Christkindl post office. Ten years later the figure was more than a million, in 1970/71 more than 1.5 million, and more than 2 million postal items each year during the course of the last ten years, with about half of them coming from abroad.


Special hints on how to use the services offered by the Christkindl post office

The Christkindl post office accepts all types of non-registered and registered letter post item addressed to destinations in both Austria and abroad and also provides courtesy canceling. Postal items to destinations abroad supposed to be handled as priority items have to bear, on the address side, the “PRIORITY” sticker available from every post office.

Seasons greetings via Christkindl
As in the years before, it is again possible this year to use the Christkindl post office to send seasons greetings without having to go there in person. Senders from within Austria can address their prepaid Christmas mail in a prepaid envelope to the post office 4411 Christkindl, which will then cancel and forward the items accordingly.
Within Austria, it is also possible to send non-registered letter post items via the Christkindl post office without the need for an extra envelope - just use the Christkindl routing label. As of 7 November 2003, the “ÜBER CHRISTKINDL” routing label is available from all post offices in Austria for € 0.30. Given the use of automatic mail sorting equipment, you should take care to attach the routing label on the address side outside the coding zone (which is a 15mm margin measured from the bottom edge of the item) and not below the address. You can post items containing routing labels at every post office counter.

Christkindl international
People abroad interested in the Christkindl services and having access to Austrian postage stamps can send in Christkindl postal items or valid postage stamps in a prepaid envelope addressed to post office 4411 Christkindl, which will then cancel and forward the postal items or provide courtesy cancellations and send back the postage stamps.
If senders outside of Austria have no access to Austrian postage stamps, they can also enclose international reply coupons of equivalent value to a “consignment” containing their non-prepaid seasonal mail.
The Christkindl post office will then attach the equivalent postage stamps to the individual items (courtesy cancellations).

First-day postmark
The Christkindl post office will not only affix a special postmark print bearing the first-day date and a print of the first-day cancel to the postal items arriving before the opening day (which is also the first day of the Christmas postage stamp), but also to items which, while arriving at a later date, have been posted not later than the first day of issue. The same applies to items with a routing label having been posted at an Austrian post office not later than the first day.


For more information please contact:
Österreichische Post AG
Kommunikation Nord
Emil Burka
Phone:  +43-(0)732 7721-5040
Fax: +43-(0) 732-5049
E-Mail: emil.burka@post.at

Linz, 28 November 2003

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