EUROPA stamps are an annual joint issue of stamps with a common motif or theme issued by the postal administrations of the member countries of the European Communities (1956-1959), the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) from 1960 to 1992 and the PostEurop Association since 1993. Since 2011, they have all carried the official EUROPA logo and promote philately by raising awareness of Europe’s common roots, culture and history and its common goals. Due to the originality of the designs – which is probably due to the annual competition for the best EUROPA stamp – EUROPA stamps are among the most collected and popular stamps in the world. This competition has been taking place since 2002, and since 2007 the winner has been chosen through an open and public voting process.
Last year’s theme was “Stories and Myths.” PostEurop’s press release states:
“Under the theme ‘Stories and Myths,’ a total of 47 entries participated in the 2022 EUROPA stamp competition.” “The winners were selected through a combined vote in three panels (16,600 votes from the public, 37 postal operators and a panel of experts).” Looking at all the entries on the PostEurop site, I couldn’t have made up my mind, which would have been for me personally the best and most beautiful one.
But there was, as always, nevertheless a winner: the stamp of POST Luxembourg showing Melusina, a female spirit of fresh water in a sacred well or river. The legend that accompanies Melusina in Luxembourg is as follows:
“In 963, the Count built his castle on the trestle rock above the Alzette for his beautiful wife, because she had given him two conditions before agreeing to the marriage: she did not want to leave the valley of the Alzette and to be alone undisturbed every Saturday noon. After a few years, Siegfried’s curiosity is said to have led him to observe his wife through the keyhole one Saturday and discover that her legs had turned into a fish’s tail. His cry betrayed him, and Melusina disappeared into the Alzette. To this day, it is said that she appears every seven years, makes a stitch in a shirt and that as soon as this shirt is finished, the Alzette will overflow its banks, the rocks will collapse, and the city of Luxembourg will perish.”
Second place went to the Finnish stamp depicting Kuutar (“Moon Girl”), the moon goddess of Finnish mythology. She possesses the gold of the moon, spins golden yarns and weaves clothes from them. Kuutar and the sun goddess Päivätär, depicted on the other stamp of this pair, are mothers of bees, wasps and hornets and appear in spells chanted to prevent these insects from stinging.
And – a great success for Liechtenstein Post – the third winner was the Liechtenstein stamp “The White Woman”, a kind of female ghost. She has long, straight hair, typically wears a white dress or similar garment, is said to be seen in rural areas, and is associated with local legends of tragedy. Common to many of these legends is an accidental death, murder or suicide, as well as the theme of loss, betrayal by a husband or fiancé, and unrequited love. On Liechtenstein’s stamp, the white woman floats through a field of mulberries before reportedly vanishing into thin air when children encountered her. The mulberry represents fearlessness and protection from evil spirits. I had already described the stamp and the second on the block when they appeared in March 2022.