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New York state declares Lunar New Year a school holiday

Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday of the year for millions of East Asians around the world.
Lunar New Year celebrated in Chinatown, New York City.
Posted at 12:43 PM, Sep 11, 2023

Lunar New Year is now an official school holiday in New York state. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation to declare Asian Lunar New Year a public school holiday across New York state. The new law ensures schools are not in session on Lunar New Year. 

Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday of the year for millions of East Asians around the world, including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Malaysian cultures.

Lunar New Year is the first of a lunar calendar year whose months are moon cycles. The next Asian Lunar New Year will be on February 10, 2024. 

“By designating Lunar New Year as an official school holiday, we are taking an important step in recognizing the importance of New York’s AAPI community and the rich diversity that makes New York so great,” Hochul said in a statement. “It is not just a day off from school — it is an opportunity for our children to learn about and celebrate their own or different cultures and traditions.”   

WhileCalifornia recognizes Lunar New Year as a state holiday and New York a school holiday, there is not a federal holiday honoring the Asian American tradition. 

Remembering Asian American history with a lantern festival
The Lantern Festival for Justice and Remembrance

Remembering Asian American history with a lantern festival

A Wall of History was erected to recall events such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese American incarceration camps.


U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, first vice chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, this year reintroduced a package of legislation to commemorate the holiday on a national level.

Meng's legislative Lunar New Year package includes the Lunar New Year Day Act, which would establish Lunar New Year as the 12th federal holiday recognized across the United States.  

According to the U.S. Census, there are about 24 million Asians in America as of 2021.

Meng noted in a statement that when she was in the New York State Assembly in 2009, she sponsored the bill to establish a New York City school holiday for Lunar New Year. 

"There were so many naysayers who told me that it would never happen. Now, look at how far we have come,” Meng said. “I am proud of the work I have done to help get us to this point and I thank all who played a role as well. And in Congress, I am continuing the fight by pushing legislation I authored that would make Lunar New Year a federal holiday.”