Almost seven years after the game's release, a dedicated Easter egg hunter has apparently found an extremely subtle message in Halo 3, following a clue left in 2012. Yesterday, competitive shooter site TeamBeyond.net posted a recent discovery made by Halo modder Lord Zedd: if you press down both thumbsticks on the game's loading screen, the camera zooms out, revealing more of the Halo ring. Another member of the Halo YouTube community pointed out that if you look closely, you can see a message printed on the outside: Happy birthday Lauren! The catch? It only appears on December 25th, or at least on a console whose clock is set to December 25th.

The Easter egg became a topic of discussion after Bungie engineer Jon Cable responded to a fan question: "Are there any Easter eggs from your past games that surprised you at how quickly they were found or any that surprised you at how long they took to find?" Cable responded:

There is one Easter egg in Halo 3 that I don't think anyone has found — I stumbled across it in code a while back. It only happens on a specific day... so good luck.

Another message seemed to expand on the Easter egg's location. Developer Adrian Perez revealed that his proudest moment at Bungie was "showing my wife the Easter egg I put in the Halo 3 loading screen for her  the one that nobody has found yet." But despite speculation, no one seems to have been able to find it until now. Many, many Halo Easter eggs have been uncovered over the years, but this is unquestionably a pretty clever one, and the video above shows exactly how to see it. "I cheated to find this. But whatever, it's been seven years and everyone gave up." He elaborated slightly on Twitter and YouTube, saying that game code controlling another, previously known egg tipped him off. From there, he could find the date: "It's simply what the code calls for when I looked around."

Update July 10, 2014 10:45AM ET: Updated with statement from Lord Zedd.