Assembly Announces Passage of Bill Recognizing Lunar New Year as a Public School Holiday

Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblymember William Colton, Asian Pacific American Task Force Co-Chairs Grace Lee and Zohran K. Mamdani, and Asian Pacific American Task Force co-creator Ron Kim announced today the passage of legislation requiring public schools statewide to close on Lunar New Year, allowing hundreds of thousands of students and staff the day to celebrate with their families (A.7768, Colton).

“I’m proud New York State is providing the time needed for students and their families to honor and celebrate Lunar New Year,” said Speaker Heastie. “New York has the second largest Asian population in the country, and it’s time we provide them with the time others are given to celebrate and spend time with family.”

“This bill and the push to make New Yorkers aware of Lunar New Year has been a long time coming,” said Assemblymember Colton, “We not only hope that students and staff who celebrate now have a day off to spend with friends and family, but those who may not have been aware of the holiday, may spend time with neighbors or community members learning more about the celebration. By New York stepping forward to celebrate Lunar New Year, we will promote and increase awareness of Asian history and tradition not just in our community but across the state.”

“I am proud to have led the movement this year to make Lunar New Year a statewide public-school holiday in New York,” said Assemblymember Lee. “As a mom of three school-aged children, I know how important Lunar New Year is as a time for families to gather and be together. Now, all children across New York State will have the day off to celebrate with their families. This school holiday will offer the potential for conversation in the classroom for teachers and students to discuss and learn about Asian American culture. Promoting acceptance and inclusion of Asian culture and heritage is particularly important at a time when Asian Americans are suffering from record levels of Anti-Asian hate and violence. This is a landmark achievement to recognize New York’s Asian American communities and will set a standard for other states to follow throughout the country.”

“I am proud that 2023 will mark the final year that we force hundreds of thousands of Asian New Yorkers to decide between attending school or celebrating the Lunar New Year with their friends and family,” said Assemblymember Mamdani. “We are honored to move beyond this binary of culture versus classwork, and to grant these traditions and holidays that which has been denied to them for decades. This work is not done, but this is a fantastic step forward.”

“Lunar New Year is such an important holiday across Asian cultures, but every year, thousands of students have been forced to choose between their education and spending time with their family and celebrating. I am so proud that our students will no longer have to make that choice,” Assemblymember Kim said. “Establishing Lunar New Year as a holiday in our schools is important to Asian students and their families, and I hope it will also give their classmates and friends the opportunity to learn about Lunar New Year and hopefully spur discussion and understanding of other cultures holidays and traditions.”

Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations to East and Southeast Asian cultures around the globe. New York State has the second largest population of Asians across the country, with nearly two-million people calling the Empire State home. New York City alone is made up of nearly 15 percent of people who identify as Asian. This bill requires public schools statewide to close on this holiday.

The celebration marks the first new moon of the lunar calendar and is typically celebrated for several days between January 21 and February 20 of the Western calendar.