by Phoebe Ho
TORONTO, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Canada Post ushered in the Chinese Lunar New Year with their highly anticipated Year of the Water Snake stamps on Tuesday in the Canadian city of Toronto.
The national carrier unveiled the designs for the duo stamp issue at a ceremony, giving collectors both a chance to stock up, and meet the designers, Joe Gault and Avi Dunkelman.
The new stamps are the fifth pair in Canada Post's second Chinese Lunar New Year series. Canada Post's general manager of consumer product management Alice Lafferty said the long-standing tradition is their way of ringing in the new year and celebrating the diverse cultures within the community.
"Lunar New Year is one of our most popular stamp issues and it 's very important for Canadians. At Canada Post, we really want to celebrate all of those events that Canadians are celebrating," she said. "It's part of our diversity and part of our culture."
With 5.5 million domestic rate stamps and 2.25 million international rate stamps issued, Lafferty said there'll be nearly 8 million stamps in the market for collectors to snatch up. Besides the stamps, there will also be 455,000 souvenir sheets, postcards, uncut sheets and framed collectibles bearing this year' s designs.
The latest issue combined complex techniques and luxurious designs to portray both the essence of the snake and beliefs of the Chinese people. On the domestic issue, a red snake is seen gliding on water, while on the international issue, there's a yellow and jade green snake coiled into a figure eight, an auspicious number in the Chinese culture.
The design team spent months researching on-line, consulting experts in the Chinese community, and producing hundreds of drafts before coming up with the final design. Stamps may be small, but the designs require a lot of thought and intricacy to complete, said Lafferty.
"It takes over a year to put together a stamp of this caliber and design and several reviews of the design elements," she said. "This one's quite unique, it has embossing, it has gold foil to make it extra luxurious for the snake and a lot of detail."
Dozens of avid collectors left satisfied, with the new designs in their hands. One collector, Fong Chen, left with over 300 Canadian dollars worth of items. He says he never misses out on the Chinese Lunar New Year stamps, something that's become a bit of a tradition for his family.
"The stamps are a piece of our culture, a piece of Chinese culture, so it's good to let the kids know, it keeps a tradition too," he said.
Janet Williams, one of the many collectors waiting in line for the stamp designers to autograph her new stamps, echoed the same sentiments.
"They're so pretty, and it's our pride and joy of Canada that produces it," she said. "I'll keep on collecting them."
Other than its gorgeous designs, Williams said flipping through the stamps she's collected over the last few decades have now become a way for her to reminisce the earlier years.
"In the stamp, I enjoy most of all is the color and the meaning of it. I truly believe what it portrays and what it predicts," she said. "It's just fascinating to collect them, it brings me joy to look at them, and I enjoy going back through the pages of every year what I've been through, the trials and tribulations."
Chinese Lunar New Year is a significant event on the Chinese calendar. Feb. 10 will mark the end of the Year of the Dragon, and ring in the Year of the Snake.