The Year of the Rat forever stamp was released Saturday by the U.S. Postal Service at the Lunar New Year Festival 2020 in Monterey Park.
The stamp features a rat mask that calls to mind the elaborately decorated masks used in the dragon dance, a hallmark of Lunar New Year parades.
The mask is mostly blue, which is said to be one of the lucky colors for individuals born during the Year of the Rat, and incorporates elements with symbolic meaning.
Several of the patterns were created with the style of Asian textiles and the circle in the center of the rat’s head represents the new moon on which the Lunar New Year begins.
The yellow motif atop the rat’s head, similar to a crown, highlights the importance of the animal’s position as the first of the 12 zodiac animal signs associated with the lunar calendar.
A pop of red, another lucky color, ties the design to other common celebratory decorations.
Lunar New Year begins Jan. 25, the second new moon after the winter solstice. It can begin as early as Jan. 21 or as late as Feb. 20.
Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year for many Asian communities around the world and is primarily celebrated by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Malaysian and Filipino heritage. It is known as Tet in Vietnam and the Spring Festival in China and elsewhere.
In communities across the United States, people shop for food and other supplies, hang decorations and ceremonially clean their homes and streets to welcome the new year with a fresh start.
Filled with symbolic meaning, the colors red and gold appear everywhere during this auspicious time of year. Red is considered very lucky, while gold is said to bring wealth.
Each year is represented by an animal which appears in the Chinese zodiac.