The U.S. Postal Service welcomes the Year of the Ram by issuing the eighth of 12 stamps<!–more–> in its Celebrating Lunar New Year series. The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Forever stamp took place today at the Chinese Culture Center in San Francisco.
The series will continue through 2019 with Forever stamps for the Year of the Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar. Year of the Ram is being issued as a souvenir sheet of 12 self-adhesive stamps.
“For millions of people around the world, Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays of the year,” said Postmaster Sanghera. “In my opinion, the Year of the Ram Commemorative Forever stamp is one of the most beautifully designed, colorful, festive and majestic stamps ever issued by the Postal Service. Starting today, this lovely illustration will be carried on letters and packages to millions of households and businesses throughout America. As you use them, we hope that the ‘Year of the Ram’ brings each of you good health, great joy and boundless prosperity.”
Art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, MD, worked on the series with illustrator Kam Mak, an artist who grew up in New York City’s Chinatown and now lives in Brooklyn.
The artwork focuses on some of the common ways the Lunar New Year holiday is celebrated. For the Year of the Ram, (Feb. 19, 2015 – Feb. 7, 2016), the illustration — originally created using oil paints on panel — depicts a wooden candy tray known as a chuen-hop or Tray of Togetherness. The tray is filled with dried fruits, candies, and other treats to provide a sweet beginning to the New Year.
The ram, alternately referred to as a sheep or a goat, is one of 12 animals associated with the Chinese lunar calendar. According to an old legend, the animals raced across a river to determine their order in the cycle. The rat crossed by riding on the back of the ox, jumping ahead at the last minute to win the race. Next came the ox, then the tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake and horse, followed by the ram in eighth place.
People born in the year of a particular animal are said to share characteristics with that animal. Individuals born during the Year of the Ram are said to be shy, creative and wise.
As the most important holiday of the year for many Asian communities around the world, the Lunar New Year is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian heritage. Images associated with some of these widespread customs are depicted in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series.
In the United States and elsewhere, the occasion is marked in various ways across many cultures; parades featuring enormous and vibrantly painted papier-mâché dragons, parties, and other special events are common. Many families set out a candy tray known as the chuen-hop or Tray of Togetherness like the one depicted in the stamp art to provide guests with an assortment of dried fruits and candies for a sweet beginning to the new year. Drums are played to celebrate this time of renewed hope for the future, with drumsticks sometimes painted red for luck. Firecrackers are set off to ward off evil spirits. Red envelopes (hong bao) containing money are given as gifts to children and loved ones. (end)
Purchase stamps at usps.com/stamps, the Postal Store, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at post offices nationwide.