In 2016 the U.S. Postal Service® will ring in the Year of the Monkey by issuing the ninth of 12 stamps in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series. The Year of the Monkey begins on February 8, 2016, and ends on January 27, 2017.
The monkey is one of the 12 zodiac animal signs 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, horse, and ram, followed by the monkey in ninth place.
People born in the year of a particular animal sign are said to share characteristics with that animal. Individuals born during the Year of the Monkey are said to be clever, wise, and honest. With their keen intellect and sociability, they can easily adapt to new situations.
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. Vendors at outdoor markets sell flowers, toys, food, and other items for celebration. Musicians play drums, often decorated with peonies like those depicted in the stamp art, to celebrate this time of renewed hope for the future, with drumsticks sometimes painted red for luck. Many families present red envelopes (hongbao) containing money to children and loved ones. People eat foods that bring good luck, such as kumquats and rice cakes, and hang festive lanterns as decoration.
The U.S. Postal Service introduced its Celebrating Lunar New Year series in 2008 with the Year of the Rat. The series will continue through 2019 with stamps for the Year of the Rooster, Dog, and Boar.
The Celebrating Lunar New Year stamp for the Year of the Monkey is being issued as a Forever® stamp. This Forever stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce price.
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