Each December, the petite post office in the town of Bethlehem becomes one of Connecticut's busiest postal facilities. The Bethlehem, CT, Post Office has introduced a new "Christmas Cachet" design each year since 1938, and there are now 81 different festive embellishments available to decorate your holiday mail. These rubber stamp designs have been created by local residents, artists and children.
2013's cachet is particularly poignant: It features 26 angels in the shape of a Christmas tree to honor the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in nearby Newtown, Connecticut. A holiday mailbox cachet was introduced in 2015, and 2016's design is sure to be a popular addition to the collection.
A visit to Bethlehem to send holiday mail has become an annual tradition for many families. Bethlehem is located in Litchfield County in the northwestern part of Connecticut--approximately 150 miles from Boston and 100 miles from the metro New York area (compare rates at nearby hotels). When you visit the Bethlehem, CT, Post Office, located at 34 East Street, you'll have the opportunity to select one or more of the cachet designs and to hand-stamp your mail before sending your greetings off to friends and family. The designs include a Hanukkah cachet, too.
Holiday hours at the post office during the month of December are 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (window is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for stamp purchases), Monday through Friday.
Typically, hours are extended until 8 p.m. on Friday during the annual Christmas Town Festival (Friday, December 2, 2016): Call ahead to verify. The post office closes from 1-2 p.m. for lunch on weekdays. The Bethlehem Post Office will also be open Saturdays in December from 6:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. (window opens for sales from 8:30 a.m. until noon).
If you can't get to Bethlehem, you can still send holiday greetings decorated with one of the post office's cachets and the distinctive Bethlehem postmark. Simply address and stamp your holiday cards, collect them in a larger envelope, and mail them to: Postmaster; Bethlehem, CT 06751. There is no fee and no limit to the number of pieces you may enclose, and while there is no official deadline for getting your request to Bethlehem, the earlier the better. If you would like to have your cards and letters stamped with one of the Christmas cachet designs, enclose a note specifying the design you prefer. You can view all design selections at the town of Bethlehem's Web site.
For more information, call the Bethlehem Post Office at 203-266-7910. For information on lodgings and other points of interest in Litchfield County, visit the Litchfield Hills Visitors Bureau online, or call them at 860-567-4506.