World

After 12 years, Japanese New Year card will show zodiac sheep has finished knitting scarf

In this Dec. 30, 2014 photo, sheep designs on postage stamps are seen on New Year's greeting cards, 2003 issue, left, and 2015 issue, right. When millions of Japanese get their customary New Year’s greeting cards Monday, the sheep that’s on the postage stamps will have finished knitting the scarf it began 12 years ago.  In 2003, the stamp on the cards issued by the post office had as its design a fluffy sheep busily knitting a scarf. This year, it’s wearing the scarf, and holding the knitting needles. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

In this Dec. 30, 2014 photo, sheep designs on postage stamps are seen on New Year's greeting cards, 2003 issue, left, and 2015 issue, right. When millions of Japanese get their customary New Year’s greeting cards Monday, the sheep that’s on the postage stamps will have finished knitting the scarf it began 12 years ago. In 2003, the stamp on the cards issued by the post office had as its design a fluffy sheep busily knitting a scarf. This year, it’s wearing the scarf, and holding the knitting needles. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)  (The Associated Press)

When millions of Japanese get their customary New Year's greeting cards Monday, the sheep that's on the postage stamps will have finished knitting the scarf it began 12 years ago.

Tradition in Japan calls for people to send post cards — often hundreds of them — to friends, colleagues and relatives, decked with pine trees, cranes and other symbols of good luck to welcome the new year — but also showing the animal of the year, as set by the Asian zodiac.

Although most stores and businesses are closed Jan. 1, mail workers are hard at work, making sure all the cards get delivered.

The sheep is the animal for 2015, heralding a year of harmony as well as possibly meekness, according to astrological storytelling.

In 2003, the stamp on the cards issued by the post office had as its design a fluffy sheep busily knitting a scarf.

This year, it's wearing the scarf, and holding the knitting needles, perhaps a little proudly.

It is not clear what it plans to knit for 2027.