1997 Year of the Ox – Lunar New Year
- The 5th stamp in the Lunar New Year Series (1992-2004)
- Celebrates the Year of the Ox, the second animal in the Chinese zodiac cycle
Lunar New Year
32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:
January 5, 1997
First Day City:
Printed for Stamp Venturers by J.W. Fergusson and Sons of Richmond, Virginia
11.1 (APS rotary perforator)
Why the stamp was issued:
To celebrate the Year of the Ox and continue the Lunar New Year Series that began in 1992.
About the stamp design:
Designed by Clarence Lee, a Chinese-American graphic designer, the same artist designated to complete all designs in the series. Like the other stamps, the Year of the Ox pictured the animal in a way similar to traditional Chinese cut-paper art. Lee cut the figure from paper, photographed the cutout, and overlayed the negative onto an airbrushed background so the background color showed through the transparent parts of the figure. The kanji calligraphy (Chinese characters) was completed by Lau Bun, a Chinese emigrant and professional calligrapher from Honolulu who descended from a long line of calligraphers. The character at the upper-left means “ox,” while the character next to it means “year.”
First Day City:
This stamp was dedicated in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. Interestingly, the first-known usage of the stamp was one week ahead of its official release date – December 29, 1996. Honolulu was an appropriate location for the stamp’s dedication as Hawaii has a high Asian American population and was also home to the stamp’s designer, Clarence Lee, and calligrapher Lau Bun.
About the Lunar New Year Series:
This was the first US Lunar New Year stamp series and ran from 1992-2004. Interestingly, it didn’t begin with the first year in the cycle (Year of the Rat), but with the 10th
(Year of the Rooster). The stamps in this series proved quite popular with collectors and postal customers alike, paving the way for future Lunar New Year series when this one came to an end.
Each stamp in this series was designed by Clarence Lee, a Chinese-American graphic designer. He created the stamps using a style reminiscent of traditional Chinese cut-paper art. The kanji calligraphy (Chinese characters) was done by Lau Bun, a Chinese emigrant and professional calligrapher from Honolulu who descended from a long line of calligraphers.
History the stamp represents:
Known as Yuan Tan
, the Chinese New Year is celebrated by Chinese people throughout the world, including Chinese Americans. Always on the first day of the first month of the year, the new year is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar, and falls between January 21 and February 19. Festivities last for fifteen days.
Before New Year’s Day, families clean the house and put up decorations. Since red is considered a lucky color, red flowers are used to decorate with, and red scrolls wish everyone happiness and prosperity.
On New Year’s Day, businesses close and families gather together to celebrate. Special foods are prepared and firecrackers are used to scare away evil spirits. The day ends with the Lantern Festival. Carrying paper lanterns through the streets, well-wishers shout Gung-Hey-Fat-Choy
– Happy New Year! Clowns, musicians, and dancers join the parade. And, of course, there is always a dragon, the symbol and strength and good luck.
The 1997 Lunar New Year stamp, the fifth in the series, celebrates the Year of the Ox. Individuals born during this year are said to be trustworthy, dependable, and conscientious. They are also said to have strong ideas, but can be stubborn and jealous. Through hard work and fortitude, however, they can prosper.