Wednesday, January 30, 2008

First day ceremony, year of the Rat

As announced yesterday I would like to tell you today about a first day ceremony that I have attended to, during the weekend. Saturday and Sunday the French post has held the first day ceremony of the souvenir sheet issued to celebrate the year of the Rat. But let’s start by the beginning.
Everything has started when I received this invitation.

When you are a regular customer of French post, you may receive such invitation for each first day ceremony. Well, invitation is a big word, since those events are free, you don’t need an invitation. But this sort of notice is rather useful because it informs you about the precise date, hour and program of the event. As you may see on the picture, two different issues were planned to be presented during the ceremony : the year of the rat souvenir sheet and the artistic booklet, that I will talk about tomorrow.
The event took place in an area of Paris called “Le Marais” which is one of the oldest area of Paris, and also my favourite. I decided to go on Saturday. The event was planned to start at 10h. As I know from experience that the first day of Chinese new year stamps are rather famous (I attended to the Year of the Dog ceremony two years ago) I arrived early, at 9h00. Yes I know, one hour in advance ! But guess what ? I was not the first one ! There were already 15 to 20 people queuing in front of the entrance. In order to spend the time, and to forget the cold, we more or less discussed all together, speaking about the (too) high number of stamps issued by French post, the (too) low quality of some of them, the (too) few young people interested by philately, etc. (I guess that if you put two stamp collectors together is almost any countries they will have this sort of exchange, no ?)At 10h the doors were opened, and we could rush inside, to enjoy the warmth and to queue again, but this time ti buy the stamps. I bought few souvenir sheets. Here is a picture of it.

French post has started to issue a souvenir sheet for the Chinese new year in 2005 for the year of the rooster. What I think a bit strange is that the blocs issued for the year of the rooster (in 2005), of the dog (in 2006) and of the pig (in 2007) were all containing ten stamps. This year, the block issued for the year of the rat contains only five stamps, even if the overall design of the block is similar to the previous ones.
After having bought my stamps, I could rush to the few tables installed at the opposite corner of the room to stick the stamps on the covers I had prepared for some of you, my readers. There were not enough tables if you want my opinion…
Then I could start queuing again, this time to get my covers cancelled with the first day cancel. Here is the one I sent to myself.

I rather like the pictorial cancel with the small rat !
I did not have the strength to queue again to get the autograph of the creator of the block. You should have seen the number of people waiting already ! I gave up.
Around this ceremony there was some other animations : Chinese music was played, there was some dancers also. You could taste various Chinese teas. There was also a stand where you could learn Origami and you could learn how to fold… a rat ! I was a bit surprised because for me Origami is more Japanese than Chinese.So I was rather pleased by this experience. As I said there was really a big number of people. I don’t know if this haw been the same all over the weekend. Tomorrow I will write about the second set of stamps that was issued at the same time, the artistic booklet.


Luke said...

Hi, my guess is that French Post might be thinking of issuing a whole new series of 5 stamps per sheet, since the start of the Chinese zodiac is rat. Note the years are shown too for the future years... well, just my guess.

Eric from Jura said...

Salut Eric !
Merci beaucoup pour le joli FDC concernant cette jolie émission !
Je suis d'accord avec toi, le cachet est superbe !
Tu as beaucoup de chance d'habiter en région parisienne...où ont lieu la plupart des "1er jour"...
C'est vrai qu'on n'a pas cette chance en province...le prochain évènement sur Lyon sera la fête du timbre début mars avec la série Tex Avery :-)
Je penserai à toi !
Encore merci Eric pour cette belle surprise !