A new stamp in commemoration of the Chinese Lunar New Year -- the Year of Monkey -- was debuted and put on sale across the United States starting Friday.
The new stamp, created by Kam Mak, 54, an illustrator who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in New York City, features two bright red-orange peonies -- which symbolize wealth and honor in Chinese culture and is used to decorate the traditional drums played during lion dances -- the papercut design of a monkey by late artist Clarence Lee, and the Chinese character for "monkey," which is drawn in grass-style calligraphy by Lau Bun.
In accordance with the Chinese lunar calendar, the Year of the Monkey begins on Feb. 8, 2016 and ends on Jan. 27, 2017.
The monkey is one of the 12 zodiac animal signs associated with the Chinese lunar calendar. People born in the year of a particular animal sign are thought to share characteristics with that animal. individuals born during the Year of the Monkey are said to be clever, wise, honest and easily adapt to new situations. The 12 animals of the Chiense Zodiac are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
At the D'Angelo Center of St. John's University in New York Friday, the issuing of the commemorative stamp by the United States Postal Service was treated with a special ceremony, where lion, ribbon and fan dances were staged amid heavy drumbeat inside a fourth-floor hall. Some 200 people, mostly students and faculty of the university, were in presence.
The Year of Monkey stamp is the ninth of the 12 stamps in the celebrating Lunar New Year series by USPS. Outside the hall where the ceremony was held Friday, workers were selling the philatelic products from several desks placed at the end of the hallway, including souvenir sheets, first-day cover and framed stamps with first-day-of-issue plaque.
There are now more than 4 million Chinese Americans living across the United States, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
With the Year of the Monkey just two days away, LED displays extending Happy New Year greetings in Chinese are ubiquitous at the famed landmarks in American cities, such as Times Square in Manhattan, New York, and Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California.