Canada Post issues 2021 Christmas, holiday stamps

Crown corporation continues nearly 60-year philatelic tradition

Canada Post has issued this year’s secular and religious holiday stamps, carrying on a decades-long tradition dating back to 1964.

For 57 years, Canada Post has issued themed stamps to adorn holiday mail. This year, the Crown corporation continued the tradition with two sets issued on Nov. 1.

The festive designs include a traditional Christmas stamp inspired by the angels in the Nativity story plus a trio of secular issues featuring classic holiday characters.

All three secular holiday stamps are also available on a souvenir sheet official first-day cover (OFDC).


Larry Burke and Anna Stredulinsky, of the Halifax marketing agency Burke & Burke, designed the 2021 holiday stamp trio, which features illustrations by Québec-based artist Geneviève Godbout.

The stamps depict portraits of three classic holiday characters, each on a different rate, including the domestic rate featuring Santa, the U.S. rate featuring a reindeer and the international rate featuring an elf.

The domestic-rate issue is available in 12-stamp booklets while the U.S.- and international-rate issues are available in six-stamp booklets. A festive three-stamp souvenir sheet featuring each character is also available along with a souvenir sheet official first-day cover (OFDC) cancelled in Noëlville, Ont., one of several communities in the Sudbury District’s French River (also known as Rivière-des-Français).

The holiday set’s souvenir sheet OFDC is serviced with a pictorial cancellation from the festively named Noëlville, Ont. Photo via Details.

“European folklore and traditions have long included winter-season figures of gift-giving, including the medieval Saint Nicholas, German Pelznickel (or Belsnickel) and Italian Befana,” reads the November edition of Canada Post’s Details magazine. “Santa Claus came to us through a melding of such legends, as popularized in 19th-century poems and illustrations. Possibly inspired by Norse and Germanic myths, the reindeer first appeared as a single flying wonder in an 1821 illustrated poem, “The Children’s Friend,” followed two years later by the eight that St. Nick called out by name in Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas (also known as The Night Before Christmas). Elves with magical powers are mentioned in Germanic, British and Scandinavian folklore, and beliefs in their ability to help (or hinder) people were common. They joined Santa’s workforce in the 1850s and have been (helpfully) making toys ever since.”

The U.S-rate stamp (shown) and international-rate stamp are both available in six-stamp booklets.

Printed by Lowe-Martin using four-colour lithography and Tullis Russell paper, the stamps measure 24 millimetres by 24 millimetres. The souvenir sheet spans 92 millimetres by 54 millimetres and the souvenir sheet OFDC measures 190 millimetres by 112 millimetres.

Lowe-Martin printed 1.3 million domestic-rate booklets (15.6 million stamps); 330,000 of both the U.S.- and international-rate booklets (1.98 million stamps each); and 55,000 souvenir sheets (165,000 stamps, or 55,000 of each of the three designs). A total of 7,000 souvenir sheet OFDCs, each franked with the three stamps, are also available.


This year’s Christmas issue is inspired by the angels who served as messengers in the Nativity story.

Montréal-based artist Stéphane Huot and illustrator Luc Melanson, who resides near Montréal, produced simple line drawings on a crisp white background, evoking purity and peace through the Christmas season.

This year’s Christmas issue (12-stamp booklet shown) honours the angels that played a central role in the Nativity story.

“Beloved symbols at Christmas, angels played an integral part in the Nativity story,” reads the latest Details. “In the Bible, these celestial beings, whose name derives from the Greek word for messenger, often serve as benevolent intermediaries between God and humanity. According to the Gospel of Luke, it was the archangel Gabriel who told Mary she would give birth to Jesus, ‘Son of the Most High,’ and when the day arrived, it was an angel who announced the good news to shepherds tending their flocks in the region. A choir of angels singing God’s praise appeared around the messenger angel, and then the awed shepherds departed for Bethlehem to worship the newborn king.”

The Christmas issue’s OFDC is serviced with a pictorial cancellation from Christmas Island, N.S.

The Permanent domestic-rate issue is available in 12-stamp booklets.

The OFDC is cancelled in Christmas Island, N.S.

The Canadian Bank Note Company printed 480,000 booklets (5.76 million stamps) using three-colour lithography and Tullis Russell paper. The stamps measure 32 millimetres by 40 millimetres. A total of 6,000 OFDCs measuring 190 millimetres by 112 millimetres were also printed.


The Christmas Island postmark features an angel’s harp below a cross. Photo via Details.

Following today’s Christmas and holiday sets, Canada Post will release another three issues, including:

  • a Hanukkah issue on Nov. 8;
  • an issue postponed from September and originally teased as having “universal appeal,” now coming on Nov. 19; and
  • another postponed September issue, teased as a “novel topic,” coming on Nov. 25.

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