The hidden date for this stamp can be found in the shadow between the praying hands.
For the third consecutive year, the Canada Post Office is issuing a special set of two postage stamps especially designed for the Christmas season. The Christmas stamps are issued in October, and unlike regular commemoratives, these stamps have a relatively long period of sale at local Post Offices. A five cent and a three cent denomination have been issued, and both have been designed to contribute to the season by extending the Christmas spirit to the holiday mail. This year's Christmas stamps were designed by Geoffrey Holloway, of Arnott Rogers Batten Ltd. of Montreal. The stamp bears as its central feature a reproduction of Albrecht Dürer's drawing "Betente Hände", or "Praying Hands". Dürer, who lived from 1471 to 1528 was a great German Renaissance painter, engraver, woodcut and decorative designer. He was a master particularly of woodcut and copperplate engraving, and among his most widely known works of this type are the engravings "St. Jerome and His Study" and the "Prodigal Son". Dürer's talents included painting, scientific engraving and drawing as well. A prime example of the latter is the expressive work which appears on these stamps. The drawing shows the gnarled hands of an elderly man, held in prayer. The rendering is simple in concept, yet infinitely detailed. It expresses without pretension, man's acknowledgement of his blessings, and the spirit of Christmas. The story goes that as a young man, Dürer travelled with a friend who was also an artist, both seeking success in their chosen craft. In deference to what he felt was Dürer's greater talent, his friend offered to work at physical labour, in order to support them both, until Dürer could succeed in becoming a well-known artist and engraver. It took many years, and by the time Dürer was an acknowledged master, his friend was too worn physically to continue his own career. One day, Dürer saw him at prayer. The result was this drawing - a poignant representation of the work-worn hands of a humble and devoted man. The stamps, both of the same design, are of small size, and depict a Christmas star, the praying hands, the words "Noël", "Christmas", "Canada", and the denomination. The five cent denomination is orange in colour, and the three cent value has been issued in rose. The stamps were printed by the intaglio steel engraving method and produced for the Canada Post Office by the Canadian Bank Note Company, Ottawa.