O little (Welsh) town of Bethlehem

12 December 2018

They may not be the conventional ‘wise men’, but a group of Welsh bikers made the pilgrimage to rural Bethlehem in West Wales last weekend, following a Christmas tradition that has made the Carmarthenshire village famous.

People from around the world embark on yearly pilgrimages to the small village  so  they can send their Christmas cards stamped with its special ‘Bethlehem’ postmark.

There are 16 places named ‘Bethlehem’ worldwide, but the Welsh Bethlehem has a special place on the map.

Since the mid-1960s the tradition of posting Christmas cards from the village has grown, with as many as 30,000 letters being posted there over the Christmas period. Due to this demand, the post office, which was closed in the 1980s, was reopened in 2002. So, the stamp still has its official Royal Mail status.

Usually the post office – situated in the old village school– opens for just a few hours every Tuesday afternoon. But in the Christmas season demand for the Bethlehem stamp is so strong that its opens six days a week.

Ofcom Wales Director, Eleanor Marks, visited the post office and bumped into the South Wales Advanced Motorcyclists Group, who were keen to get their Christmas cards stamped for grandchildren and other family members at the famous post office.

If you want a special ‘Bethlehem’ postmark, get on your bike to Carmarthenshire. The last recommended posting days for Royal Mail are Tuesday 18 December for second-class mail and Thursday 20 December for first-class mail.