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The Asian Lunar New Year now an Official Holiday in New York

The Asians in New York along with other students will get to celebrate an additional holiday from 2024.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced the signing of a bill into law, which will officially recognize the Asian Lunar New Year as a public school holiday. The bill was signed on Sept 9, 2023. It came as a happy moment not only for the Asians but all the other kids attending school. Sean Ryan, the State Senator from Buffalo supported the new law and recognized it as a reflection of unity in diversity.

The Lunar New Year

It is the first new moon of a lunar calendar year, where all the months are regarded as moon cycles and celebrated across East and Southeast Asia, also known as the Spring Festival.

However, it does not have a fixed date as it works according to the moon cycle, occurring on the first new moon after the winter solstice. As of 2024, it will fall on Feb 10, marking the official implementation of the law.

Recognized by millions of Asians but specifically by the Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans along with different cultures and traditions, celebrated differently in each country but the essence is in the gathering of the whole family for welcoming new beginnings and paying tribute to the ancestors.

Celebration in China, Korea and Vietnam

In China, red is the most significant colour on the day of celebration, ranging from lanterns and decorations to envelopes filled with money. The houses are cleaned to remove any bad luck and symbols like dragons are hung from the windows. Families gather while feasting upon dumplings and many more.

In Korea, the families wear traditional dresses with vibrant colours and pay tribute to ancestors through rites. The children pay respect to their elders by bowing and receiving gifts. A rice cake soup known as Tteok Guk is eaten as a symbol of gaining maturity and wisdom.

In Vietnam, the central practice is eating Banh Chung which is a sticky rice cake symbolizing unity and harmony in families. Along with flower markets springing all over the place, the lion dance is done to send off any bad luck.

An Effort for Recognizing Asian Communities

Kathy Hochul introduced the new law to celebrate and recognize the Asian communities, which constitute more than 10% of the population living in New York. It is home to about 1.9 million Asians and the second largest city with an Asian population in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center’s report in 2021.

She felt the importance of spreading cultural knowledge among the students so that they learn to celebrate their own as well as the different cultures.

The state Sen. Brian Kavanagh was the official who brought forth the bill in the Senate, recognizing the importance of the Asian community in New York. She praised the contribution of Asian New Yorkers in the making of New York while expressing the sad reality of the present scenario where the kids have to choose between attending school or celebrating their significant day.

The law not only symbolizes the importance of the Asian Community in New York but also the inclusion of different cultures and the universal values that we ought to know and celebrate. The holiday will signify the feeling of oneness and a way to spend family time with a sense of togetherness for Asian New Yorkers while infusing cultural knowledge and traditional practices among other cultures.

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