The United States Postal Service (USPS) has unveiled its Year of the Rat forever commemorative stamp.
Luke T. Grossmann, senior vice president of finance and strategy for the USPS, shared the tale of how the rat became the first animal featured in the Lunar New Year rotation.
“A popular legend tells of the animals swimming across a river in a race to determine who would go first, with the rat crossing by riding on the back of the ox to jump ahead at the last minute to win that race,” Grossman said. “It is our sincere hope that the year of the rat brings everyone prosperity, peace, good luck, and much joy.”
This is the premier stamp in the Postal Service’s new series, which will feature all 12 animals associated with the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.
The stamp features a mask reminiscent of those used in the dragon dance, a staple in Lunar New Year parades. Art director Antonio Alcala designed the stamp with original artwork by Camille Chew.
Utilizing blue as the predominant color—said to be one of the lucky colors for individuals born during the Year of the Rat—the rat mask in the stamp design incorporates elements with symbolic meaning. Several of the patterns were created with the style of Asian textiles in mind and the circle in the center of the rat’s head represents the new moon on which the Lunar New Year begins. A pop of the very lucky color red ties the design in with other common celebratory decorations.