Still haven’t sent out your Christmas cards? There’s still time and there’s a town that will help. One of the most popular places in the world each Christmas is the small Ozarks town of Noel, Mo. Last year, volunteers helped stamp a special Christmas postmark on around 30,000 cards.
Those who have their cards stamped at Noel can choose from two Christmas postmarks. One is red with a holiday wreath that says “Noel: The Christmas City” and the other is a green Christmas tree that says “Noel: Christmas City of the Ozarks.”
Until 1933, no one connected Noel to the Christmas holiday. That year, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt named Democrat Ed Rousselot postmaster. With a French heritage, Rousselot shared the meaning of Noel in French along with a different pronunciation, rhyming with bell
His vision was to make Noel known as the Christmas city, so he proposed the idea of a special Christmas postmark. To help spread the word, the town tried to enlist some celebrity help and they found it in singer Kate Smith.
Smith was a major recording star in radio and television with a career that spanned more than a half century. In the 1940s, Smith was known as the “First Lady of Radio.” Smith began mentioning Noel, using the French pronunciation, in her radio broadcasts. “I’m dedicating this song to my friends in Noel, the Christmas City,” she said.
Residents of Noel sent fruitcakes to Smith each year for many years. The most notable was a 300-pound fruitcake baked in a Christmas tree-shaped pan in 1947.
Although the Christmas cards postmarks did little toward making Noel a winter tourist destination, the tradition did earn the town a new nickname: The Christmas City. Other cities known for their connection to Christmas include North Pole, Alaska; North Pole, N.Y.; Rudolph, Texas; and Bethlehem, Pa.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice