The hidden date for this stamp can be found on the red ribbon between the two cookies.
Food—especially wonderfully decorated savory delights or sweet treats—are a traditional part of celebration around the world. And whether you’re a fan of the festive season or a total bah-humbugger—it’s almost impossible to resist the temptation of fragrant and warm-from-the-oven Christmas cookies. That’s why we think our 2012 Christmas stamps will be irresistible. (But they’re self-adhesive—so quell the urge to lick them!)
Designed by Hélène L’Heureux of Interaction Design, the three stamps—PERMANENT domestic, U.S. and International denominations—are quite literally cut from the same…dough. Featuring festive shapes and on the domestic, iconic gingerbread people, the images on the stamps are so realistic, you can almost smell the ginger and nutmeg—and taste the creamy sweet icing.
Says L’Heureux of the design, “Due to their shape and size, these cookies make the ideal subject. They’re recognizable from any angle. Still, great care was taken to carefully frame the cookies (and their decorations!), while ensuring that they filled the confined space as best possible.”
It was her hope to inspire some happy childhood memories with stamps that are a tasty reminder of the pleasures practicing the tradition of baking and lovingly decorating holiday cookies and leaving a late night snack for Santa on Christmas Eve.
According to Stamp Design Manager Alain Leduc, “The simplicity of the well-known cookie images looks fresh and so appealing on the white background. Again, we try to explore symbols for the Christmas stamps that are familiar and have wide appeal—and I think we’ve definitely succeeded with these cookies.”
Originating with the Egyptians and Greeks, gingerbread’s ties to the holidays can be traced back to pre-Christian celebrations of the winter solstice, when small spicy cakes, marked with symbols of the sun were part of the yule feast. Gingerbread arrived in Europe courtesy of the crusaders, who brought then rare ginger back from the Middle East. As the spice became more common and affordable, an early European recipe that called for ground almonds, stale breadcrumbs, rosewater, sugar and ginger became popular. In the 16th century, English bakers replaced the breadcrumbs with flour, and added eggs and sweeteners, resulting in a lighter, tastier treat.
The first gingerbread man is credited to Queen Elizabeth I, who impressed dignitaries by presenting them with cookies in their own likeness. Today, in towns and cities across the country, the best local bakers compete to create award-winning gingerbread homes—more aptly in many cases, cookie mansions—that use gum drops, jelly beans and other candies, coloured icings, nuts and other edible goodies as decorations.
Decorate your cookies
Canada Post has managed to capture some that desire to decorate in our domestic PERMANENT stamp offering. The stamps are enhanced with augmented reality, which means once you download the free StampsAlive app (for iPhone®, iPad® and Android™ devices), simply hover over the stamp with your device and choose from several decorating scenarios.
While everyone has their favourite version of gingerbread, we can all agree it’s one sweet and delicious part of our Christmas traditions. And if you’re a more hands-on creative type, you may want to try the recipes used in baking the cookies featured on our Christmas stamps.
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250 ml (1 cup) molasses
250 ml (1 cup) golden yellow sugar
15 ml (1 tbsp) ground cinnamon
15 ml (1 tbsp) ground ginger
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cloves
5 ml (1 tsp) ground nutmeg
5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda
250 ml (1 cup) butter (softened)
2 eggs (room temperature)
1,000 ml (4 cups) all-purpose flour
1. In a saucepan, dissolve the molasses, sugar and spices over low heat. Let simmer 20 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and add the baking soda. (Be careful: The mix will rise and could overflow.)
Let stand 10 minutes.
3. In a mixing bowl, at low speed, add the molasses-spice mix a little at a time to the butter.
4. Add the eggs one by one and continue mixing.
5. Add the flour all at once with the mixer at low speed.
6. Beat batter until smooth, then separate into two balls and refrigerate for approx. 2 hours.
7. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 0.25 cm thick and cut into shapes using floured cookie cutters.
8. Bake for approximately 10 minutes on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
9. Let cool on the cookie sheet.
Once cookies have cooled, they can be decorated with icing and your favourite candies.