Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Among the oddest aspects of religion depicted on stamps was the encouragement of the observance of Sabbath on Sunday. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Belgium issued special Sunday Delivery Stamps. Attached to each was a small tab, which could be torn off if necessary, with instructions in Flemish and French that a letter bearing the stamp and tab was not to be delivered on a Sunday. These tabs are found on all Belgian stamps issued between 1893 and 1912. The origin of this instruction is to be found in the Fourth of the Ten Commandments, which commands that the Sabbath be kept holy, and that no work shall be done on it.
With the introduction of Sunday postal deliveries in Belgium, objections were raised by some individuals who regarded Sunday as a holy day and strongly opposed this Sunday mail delivery as a defiance of God’s law. However, many Belgians did not mind Sunday delivery at all, so a compromise was reached: if a person posting a letter did not mind it being delivered on a Sunday, he could detach the tab bearing the instruction “Do not deliver on Sunday.” If, however, Sunday deliveries were against his religious beliefs, he could leave the tab on the stamp and his letter would be held over at the post office until the Monday.
In effect, the religiously observant were given the opportunity to make a sacrifice for their faith by delaying the delivery of their letters by one day. Of course, the sacrifice probably seemed trivial, as delaying progress and being "behind the times" has not bothered believers very much in the past.