“Gung Hay Fat Choy”
From Ralph Harpuder
The Chinese Lunar New Year falls this year on February 9. It will always fall between late January and the middle of February as explained later in the article.
The US Postal Service released on January 6 a double pane of twelve stamps, shown in figure one, which unites “The Year of the Rooster,” with all the previous US Chinese New Year stamps of the cycle that began in 1992.
A complete cycle, as explained in an earlier report on “The Year of the Monkey,” takes sixty years, and is made up of five cycles, twelve years each. The start of the Lunar Year is based on the cycles of the moon.
The traditional Chinese calendar is not based entirely on the moon, but is based on both moon and sun to keep it close to seasonal change. The Hebrew calendar like the Chinese calendar is also Lunisolar.
Each animal portrayed on a Chinese Happy New Year stamp represents part of the twelve year repeating cycle which is part of the Lunisolar Calendar. The Year of the Rooster which began the current cycle in 1992 and ended this year, is shown on a First Day Cover of that first issue in figure two.
The Chinese people believe the animal that reigns the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on personality.
Jewish refugees in Shanghai living in close propinquity with the Chinese people had the opportunity to partake in the festivities of this ancient holiday that originated in 2600BC. Most of the refugees, however, were not familiar with the many century old traditions practiced by their new Chinese neighbors, and therefore kept their distance. Besides not speaking the language, they had other things to worry about, or to use the cliché, “to keep their head above water.”
Many refugees living in the Shanghai Ghetto, however, did celebrate occasionally the Western New Year based on the Gregorian calendar which was more familiar to them. In spite of the many hardships they had to face and endure, they entered the New Year most of the time with gayety and laughter. Two advertisements in the Shanghai Echo, a Jewish refugee newspaper, show an announcement of a New Years Eve gala event at the Eastern Theater with the talented Rosl Albach-Gerstel; and a cheerful Berliner “Sylvester” (New Year) evening at the Promenaden-Cafe, also situated in Hongkew, with popular comedian Gerhard Gottschalk Both announcements are shown in Figure three and figure four respectively.
Today, when Shanghailanders visit the post office either in the United States or in Canada to purchase stamps that commemorate the Chinese New Year, they are reminded of the country that rescued them from Nazi tyranny and eventual death.