Lunar New Year Postage Stamps

Virtual Exhibit
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The 2008 Year of the Rat stamp features red lanterns, a common decoration at New Year celebrations.

U.S. stamps have also celebrated aspects of Chinese heritage and culture that go beyond the realm of politics. The Lunar New Year collection are some of the most successful issues in the history of the USPS. These postage stamps embody an aspect of Chinese culture and tradition that has left an indelible mark on the United States and also found a place in popular culture.

The Chinese lunar cycle is based on a twelve year repeating cycle. According to legend, the signs of the Zodiac were determined when Buddha invited all the animals of the kingdom for a meeting. Only twelve animals showed up: the rooster, dog, boar, rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, ram and monkey. Buddha gave each animal its own year; thus, it is believed that people will possess the nature and characteristics of the animal that represents the year in which they are born.

This virtual exhibition highlights the Lunar New Year stamps section of the People and Places of the Pacific virtual exhibition.