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NJ Assembly approves Lunar New Year holiday

The New Jersey Assembly approved a bill recognizing Lunar New Year as a state holiday. Nationally, there are no holidays recognizing Asian Amercians.
Lunar New Year in Montclair, New Jersey, 2023.
Posted at 7:49 AM, Mar 31, 2023

New Jersey could become the second state after California to enact a state law recognizing Lunar New Year as a holiday.

The State Assembly Thursday approved Assembly Bill AJR by a vote of 73 to 0. The bill now heads to the State Senate and Governor Phil Murphy for approval.

Lunar New Year is the most important holiday for East Asians around the world. Also known as spring festival, it is a 15-day period that celebrates the beginning of the lunar solstice calendar. 

Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in New Jersey, accounting for more than one million residents out of the state’s 9.2 million population. 

The population of Asians grew 44% between 2010 and 2020. Pockets of New Jersey are ethnic enclaves, such as Palisades Park in Bergen County, known as Koreatown, where over 40% of its residents identify as Asian.

The bill was introduced by New Jersey Assemblywomen Ellen Park, an immigrant from South Korea who represents portions of Bergen County. 

Nationally, there are no holidays recognizing Asian Americans.

Amber Reed, president of AAPI Montclair and an adoptee from South Korea, hopes that New Jerseyans will join the 1.5 billion people around the world to officially celebrate Lunar New Year with a holiday.

“We are so grateful to Assemblywoman Park and all of the sponsors for recognizing this holiday at the state level,” Reed said. “Celebrating our cultures makes New Jersey stronger and this resolution will help uplift our children and communities—helping us feel seen and valued.” 

Over the years, communities and school districts have embraced this holiday and other Asian holidays with festivals, school events, and programs that reach New Jerseyans of all backgrounds, Reed said. 

“We also recognize the growing number of school districts and the efforts to incorporate the holiday in school district calendars,” Reed said.  

California officially marked its first Lunar New Year holiday in January as a state holiday. Lunar New Year is celebrated in China, Vietnam, South Korea and other Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia.     

Lunar New Year at a public park in Beijing

What it means to be born in the Year of the Rabbit

East Asians around the world will ring in the Year of the Rabbit on Sunday, January 22.