State assembly members push bill to declare Lunar New Year as official holiday in NY
Two New York state assembly members are pushing for a bill that would declare Lunar New Year as an official public holiday in the state.
Assembly Members William Colton and Grace Lee held a press conference Thursday with community members to urge for the passage of Bill A1275.
"We as Asian Americans here, we want to see the government recognize our contribution to this country. When you recognize your holiday, that recognizes your culture. It's not only a holiday, but it's a symbol for the Asian community that you recognize us," said community member Susan Zhuang.
New York state has the second highest Asian population in the United States.
Yet the Asian community's most celebrated holiday of the year is not recognized as a public holiday in New York state. Colton and Lee reintroduced Bill A1275 into the 2023-2024 session to change this for the New York Asian community.
"I still remember when I was a kid, during the Chinese New Year, I had to get up and go to school. My mom said you don't have to go if you don't feel like going, but at that time, I myself didn't want to lose any days. Why do we have to have our kids make that decision?" said district leader to Assembly Member Grace Lee Nancy Tong.
Since 2015, the Department of Education has recognized the Lunar New Year as a New York City public schools' holiday, but without full support from the state, this does not extend the observation of a holiday onto the following Monday if it falls on a weekend.
Lunar New Year is a holiday full of tradition which gives families a time to come together and celebrate good fortune for the year to come.
"For kids, we wish kids a happy and healthy, we give red envelope and also some dumplings. The dumpling looks like a gold, so basically you will get rich next year," Zhuang explained.
The bill now seeks more community support and a co-sponsorship from other assembly members.
After that it will have to get passed through the government operations committee, the State Assembly, the state Senate and then to Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk for her signature.
"By making the Lunar New Year a public holiday, we will make the people of the state more aware of this tradition," Colton said.
Supporters of Bill A1275 hope that next year at this time, Asian Lunar New Year will be recognized as a New Yor state public holiday.