NY Adds Asian Lunar New Year As School Holiday

In a move that broadens the scope of “cultural inclusion,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has signed legislation making the Asian Lunar New Year a public school holiday. The measure aims to honor the state’s AAPI community and add another layer to the educational curriculum by emphasizing the celebration of diverse traditions.

New York already observes various holidays, closing its schools for occasions like Christmas, Rosh Hashanah and Eid al-Fitr. The new law will add Lunar New Year to this list, a festival celebrated in China and several other Asian countries. The entire 15-day celebration is a major cultural event marking the arrival of spring and the new year on the lunisolar calendar.

“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. “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.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) pointed out that the bill emerged from the hard work of the Assembly Majority and the Asian Pacific Task Force. “The Lunar New Year holiday will give thousands of Asian students in our state the ability to gather together and celebrate with family and friends without sacrificing their education,” Heastie noted.

While the push for cultural diversity has been strong in recent years, this move also adds another day off to the academic calendar, which some could argue potentially hinders educational advancement. The United States already lags behind several other developed countries regarding academic performance. However well-intentioned, could a growing list of holidays contribute to this gap?

Moreover, one has to wonder if there will be a call for additional holidays representing other ethnic and religious groups not currently recognized in the public school calendar. Will this open Pandora’s box of endless holidays and observances, making it even more difficult for schools to complete the academic syllabus?