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The U.S. Postal Service unveiled the Lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon Forever stamp in the historic Chinatown – International District in Seattle. The Postal Service printed 22 million stamps now on sale at Post Offices and usps.com.
“For more than three decades, the Postal Service has issued stamps highlighting the Lunar New Year and this subject has been some of the most successful stamp releases in the long history of the Postal Service,” said Eduardo H. Ruiz, Jr., USPS vice president of retail and delivery operations for the Postal Service’s WESTPAC Area, who served as the dedicating official. “The Postal Service has one of the most diverse workplaces in the United States, and its customer base is as diverse as the country itself. This stamp is a great example that reflects our nation’s rich, multicultural heritage and traditions.”
Other participants at the ceremony were Bruce Harrell, mayor of Seattle; Connie So, professor of University of Washington and president of the OCA Greater Seattle-Asian Pacific American Advocates; Joël Barraquiel Tan, director of the Wing Luke Museum; Claudine Cheng, president of the APA Heritage Foundation; Tanya Woo, Seattle community activist and award-winning dancer; singer Cecilia Xu; the Seattle Chinese Folk Dance Group and the Mak Fai Dragon and Lion Dance Team.
“For many Asian Americans, the Lunar New Year celebrates a chance to leave behind the troubles of the past year and invite prosperity and good luck moving forward,” said So, the University of Washington professor. “This Year of the Dragon stamp ceremony recognizes the importance of the diversity and cultural significance Asian Americans bring to the United States and provides Seattle an opportunity to promote the significance of the Lunar New Year.”
Lunar New Year Stamp Background
On February 10, 2024, millions of people around the world will celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday. Beginning on the night of the second new moon following the winter solstice, the Lunar New Year festival celebrates the coming of spring and a time of renewal. It also marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon, the fifth of the 12 animals associated with the Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Dragon ends on January 28, 2025.
Parades, parties, and other special events mark the Lunar New Year festival for people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Mongolian heritage in many parts of the world. Celebrants set off firecrackers to ward off evil spirits and clean their houses to signify a moment of renewal before spring. They write couplets and give gifts to celebrate the coming year. Festive lanterns, colored red and gold for luck, are hung as decorations, and celebrants prepare customary foods to honor the traditional planting season.
Considered by many to be the most auspicious sign in the Chinese zodiac, people born in the Year of the Dragon are said to be successful, wise, and powerful. In fact, many consider the dragon to be so favorable, they plan for children to be born under the sign. Every 12 years, many Asian communities experience a baby boom because of the allure of the dragon, the only mythical creature in the zodiac.
Five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water—are also associated with each year’s animal sign. In 2024, the Lunar New Year will mark the beginning of the Year of the Wood Dragon. Characteristics of the Wood Dragon differ from those of other elemental dragons—they are said to be quieter and more introverted, but also successful, strong leaders who dedicate themselves fully to their work.
Beginning in 2020, in observance of the Lunar New Year holiday, the U.S. Postal Service introduced its third Lunar New Year series. This is the fifth Forever stamp in that series, which will continue through 2031 with stamps for the Year of the Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar.
“The Lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon stamp is much more than U.S. postage,” said Tan, the Wing Luke Museum executive director. “It reflects a much larger narrative about inclusion and equity, as the Wing Luke Museum is dedicated to advancing racial and social equity, we applaud the Postal Service for promoting greater awareness of Asian culture and heritage through its stamp program as the dragon represents power, nobility and honor.”
The Stamp Design
Artist Camille Chew constructed the dragon mask out of hand-printed paper, then cut, scored, and folded it into shape. She embellished the mask with acrylic paint and other paper elements, like flowers and tassels, and covered the back of the mask in a layer of papier-mâché. The completed mask was photographed on a white background.
Utilizing gold and red as the predominant colors, the dragon mask incorporates elements with symbolic meaning. Gold signifies prosperity in the coming year, while red is considered lucky—colors befitting the dragon sign, which is said to be the most auspicious among all the animals in the Chinese zodiac.
With guidance from art director Antonio Alcalá, Chew worked on this series of stamps to create contemporary Lunar New Year imagery. Referencing the colorful and beautifully adorned masks used in Lunar New Year parades, Chew’s three-dimensional art evokes feelings of celebration and festivity. Illustrations of the 12 zodiac animals, done in the artist’s unique style, form vertical lines on the left and right sides of the pane of 20 stamps.
The Lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon pane of 20 stamps are issued as Forever stamps. Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1‑ounce price.