2021 55¢ Year of the Ox – Lunar New Year Series (Imperforate)
Value: 55¢ 1-ounce First-class rate (Forever)
Issue Date: February 2, 2021
First Day City: Chicago, IL
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Offset, foil stamping, flexographic, microprint
Format: Pane of 20
Quantity Printed: 24,000,000
In the Chinese zodiac, the ox is the second animal in the 12-year Lunar New Year cycle. Interestingly, the animal is usually referred to as a cow, bull, or water buffalo rather than a true ox. In 2021, the year of the Ox began on February 12.
The Chinese zodiac animal is always paired with an element each time it comes up in the cycle. Those elements are known as the "five elements" or "phases." They are fire, water, wood, metal, and earth. In 2021, the phase was metal. When put together with the zodiac animal, it was the year of the metal ox. The Chinese also assign zodiac animals to hours of the day. The hours of the ox fall between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.
Ancient Chinese astronomers divided zodiac stars into groups known as the "28 Mansions." This is because of how the moon moves in its monthly journey across the sky. It is said the moon "visits" these mansions as it passes by. The ox is located in one of the northern mansions of the Black Tortoise. Western tradition places it within the constellation Capricornus.
It is fun to explore the intricate holiday traditions of other cultures. Lunar New Year is one of the most interesting, with millions of people across the globe celebrating it each year. It is a time to enjoy meals with family and friends, festive decorations, and hope for good fortune in the year to come.