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Where EAST meets the Northwest


RABBIT STAMP. A new Year of the Rabbit stamp (left image) is part of a third series of Lunar New Year stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service. Previous Rabbit stamps were issued in 1999 (top right) and 2011 (bottom right). (Images courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service)

From The Asian Reporter, V33, #1 (January 2, 2023), page 12 & 15.

USPS issues Year of the Rabbit Lunar New Year stamp

A new Year of the Rabbit stamp is the fourth in the third series by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) celebrating the Lunar New Year. The Rabbit stamp will be dedicated on Thursday, January 12 at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

The Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays of the year for many Asian communities around the world and is celebrated by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Malaysian, Filipino, and other heritages.

In the United States and elsewhere, the occasion is celebrated in various ways on New Year’s day and in the days that follow. Across many cultures, numerous traditions exist for ringing in a new year of good luck and prosperity.

In communities across the United States, people shop for food and other supplies, hang decorations, and ceremoniously clean their homes and streets to welcome the year with a fresh start. Many people also attend parades and special events.

2023 Rabbit stamp

Utilizing red, pink, and purple as the predominant colors — said to be lucky colors for individuals born during the Year of the Rabbit — the mask of the Rabbit in the new stamp’s art incorporates elements with symbolic meaning.

Several of the patterns were created with the style of Asian textiles in mind as well as green flowers that represent the arrival of spring, which the Lunar New Year also signals in Chinese culture.

The crescent shape in the center of the Rabbit’s head references the lunar calendar on which Lunar New Year is based and the celestial themes of the lunar zodiac.

Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp and pane with original artwork by Camille Chew.

The 2023 Year of the Rabbit stamp is being issued in panes of 20. A forever stamp, it will always be equal in value to the current first-class mail one-ounce price.

Year of the Rabbit

The Rabbit, also referred to as the Cat in some cultural traditions, is the fourth of the zodiac animal signs associated with the lunar calendar. Those born during the Year of the Rabbit are often viewed as artistic, considerate, intelligent, and peaceful. The Year of the Rabbit begins January 22, 2023 and ends February 9, 2024.

First stamp series began in 1992

Late artist Clarence Lee, an American of Chinese descent who was born in Honolulu, designed the original USPS series of Lunar New Year stamps.

The first stamp, a Year of the Rooster stamp worth 29 cents, was issued in 1992. The stamp had a paper-cut two-dimensional look. The 11 animals in the lunar zodiac followed each year. Another feature of this series were kanji characters written by a professional calligrapher. The series ended in 2005.

After the initial series of stamps concluded, members of the Asian community urged USPS to continue its issuance of Lunar New Year stamps annually.

Second series released in 2008

The second set of stamps was called the Celebrating Lunar New Year series and the first stamp was released in 2008.

Instead of following the route of illustrating the zodiac animals, artist Kam Mak chose to depict symbolic objects of Lunar New Year celebrations — a red lantern, the lion dance, firecrackers, drums, lucky bamboo, and more.

The stamps also featured small animal illustrations, in a traditional paper-cutout style, by Lee, the artist who created the first stamp series in 1992. Mak designed the series with art director Ethel Kessler.

To learn more, or to purchase the new Lunar New Year stamp, call 1-800-STAMP24 (1-800-782-6724) or visit <www.usps.com/stamps>.

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