After helping make Lunar New Year a school holiday in New York, Queens Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) is now pushing to make it a federal holiday through new legislation.
Introduced on Friday, the Lunar New Year Day Act bill, co-sponsored by 44 other individuals, would add Lunar New Year to the list of 11 federally recognized holidays, according to a press release published on Monday.
“For Asian Americans, Lunar New Year is an incredibly important, festive and deeply traditional holiday,” Meng said about the holiday that has been observed for thousands of years. “It’s the most significant time of year for the Asian American community and is celebrated in the U.S. and across the globe.”
In addition to the bill, Meng also introduced the resolution “Recognizing the cultural and historical significance of Lunar New Year in 2022,” which has 71 co-sponsors.
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“The time has come to make this happen,” Meng continued in the statement. “My bill, coupled with my resolution, would demonstrate that the holiday celebrated by millions is also valued by their government. I look forward to shepherding these measures through the House, and I am excited to wish everyone celebrating a very happy Lunar New Year!”
Speaking to The Washington Post on Tuesday, Meng said the bill would “send a powerful message of inclusion to Asian Americans and non-Asians.” She added that it could potentially be “a counterbalance to the marginalization many Asians and Asian Americans have encountered over the past two years.”
“Part of this [bias] is due to the lack of education and understanding about this community that is still too often viewed as foreigners and not truly American,” Meng told The Washington Post. “And what’s so beautiful about this country is that we can keep learning about other communities, whether they came here generations ago or just recently.”
Although the bill is still in an early stage, Meng acknowledged that she has yet to encounter any resistance to the new legislation.
Meng first proposed the legislation to make Lunar New Year a school holiday in 2014, along with State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-N.Y.), New York Daily News reported. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in June 2015 that the city would consider Lunar New Year a school holiday, which took effect on Feb. 8, 2016, according to Reuters. Similarly, the Iowa City School District has declared that Lunar New Year will be a school holiday from the 2022-2023 school year onwards, as NextShark previously reported. Schools in Maryland’s Montgomery County have allowed students to take the day off to celebrate Lunar New Year and has been doing so since 2021.