The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has announced its plans to ring in the Year of the Rooster with a first-day-of-issue ceremony on Jan. 5.
The ceremony, which will see the release of a commemorative Forever stamp – the 10th of 12 stamps in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series – will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, in Seattle, Wash.
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. The Year of the Rooster begins on Jan. 28, 2017 and ends on Feb. 15, 2018.
In the U.S. as well as in Canada, the occasion is marked in various ways; parades featuring enormous and vibrantly painted papier-mâché dragons, parties, and other special events are common. Vendors at outdoor markets sell flowers, toys, food, and other items for celebration. Musicians play drums to celebrate this time of renewed hope for the future.
Many families present red envelopes (hongbao), like the one depicted in the stamp art, containing money to children and loved ones.
Art director Ethel Kessler worked on the series with illustrator Kam Mak, a Hong Kong-born artist that 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 Rooster, the illustration – originally created using oil paints on panel – depicts a colourful rooster emblazoned on a red envelope. Parents present red envelopes containing money to children and loved ones during Lunar New Year celebrations. The colour red symbolizes luck in Chinese culture, while rooster imagery is often used to ward off evil spirits. The characters at the top of the envelope form a common Chinese greeting of celebration and wish for prosperity and good fortune, used most frequently during Lunar New Year.