From the Strand to the U.S.A., Africa and New Zealand
By a Special Correspondent
TWO million Christmas cards, letters and parcels have been going through the post these past few days with an extra "stamp"—a reproduction of an Old Master illustrating various scenes of the Nativity.
At the same time millions of people, in almost every town and city in the country—and in numerous villages and hamlets—have been having the real meaning of Christmas brought home to them by coloured posters depicting the Stable in Bethlehem.
The third year of the Christmas Poster Campaign has in fact reached a wider public than the anonymous organisers had dared to hope for even a few weeks ago.
Thirty thousand copies of the picture by the Catholic artist Doris Zinkeisen used in 1951 were printed.
Londoners and visitors to London for the holidays meet them at almost every turn. Three hundred are on London Transport stations and hundreds more on British Railways main line stations.
A list of all the places where they may be seen would read like a gazetteer—and some of the places are in no gazetteer.
Shoppers in Bourne & Hollings.worth's Oxford Street store will see one inside. So will the people who go into a certain pub in Fulham. Numerous cinema foyers have Christmas posters.
There is one on a door in Eccles, another in a TB ward in Godalming —and another in Holloway Prison.
Factories, canteens, commercial vehicles are exhibiting them, and many a gatepost in the countryside has one.
City and village
Through the generosity of billposting firms in many parts of the country posters are now displayed on selected sites in most of the big cities—among them Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Glasgow.
A high-light in this group is the collection of four side by side in the Strand.
Farthest north, perhaps, is the poster displayed by the Cistercian monks at Nunraw, Scotland.
One of the most prominent in London is the poster outside St. Martinin-the-Fields, overlooking Trafalgar Square.
Many of the posters have travelled hundreds and even thousands of miles and are now displayed in Eire and Northern Ireland, the United States, Canada, France, Belgium, Gibraltar, South Africa, Rhodesia, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand. New Guinea, Jamaica, Nigeria, Singapore, India and Pakistan.
Reactions have been swift. From the day the posters went up the organisers have been overwhelmed with enquiries and requests for posters and the Christmas stamps, nearly all from non-Ca th ol ies.
Non-Catholics have in fact supported this year's campaign in much greater numbers than in the two previous years.
There has been practically universal approval of the picture itself.
Many Catholic societies have helped the campaiga, notably the Knights of St. Columba, the Catholic Young Men's Society, Catholic Women's League, Union of Catholic Mothers and the Catholic Action Girls' Organ isation.
Individual helpers have been found in a great many parts of the country to get the posters in shop windows and the windows of private houses.
But—as is perhaps fitting for the festival of childhood—the lion's share of the credit must go to the children in all the convents of Great Britain, who have paid for as great a number of posters as any other single group.