Lunar New Year –
Year of the Rat
Issue Date: January 9, 2008
City: San Francisco, CA
The 2008 Chinese New Year begins February 7 as the Year of the Rat. The Chinese New Year starts with the second new moon after winter commences. The celebration lasts for fifteen days, ending with the Lantern Festival.
According to ancient Chinese legend, a man-eating beast, called the Nián, emerges from the mountains every 12 months to feed. The people believe that the beast is afraid of loud noises and the color red, so they scare the Nián away with fireworks and an excessive use of the color red. This custom has become the Chinese New Year celebration.
The Chinese calendar runs on a 12-year cycle, with each year being attributed to a different animal. Chinese mythology claims that long ago, Buddha asked all animals to meet him on Chinese New Year, and the first 12 that arrived had a year named after them. Buddha also proclaimed that people born in each animal’s year would possess qualities similar to that animal.
The first animal to arrive was the rat. People born in the year of the rat are often strong leaders. Passionate, charismatic, practical, and hard-working, the rat is outgoing and sociable. People born in the year of the rat are often thrifty, but willing to share, especially with their family.
The 2008 Year of the Rat stamp is the first in a new series of 12 stamps commemorating the Chinese Lunar Year.