Newsom Passes Bill That Recognizes Lunar New Year as State Holiday


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Red lanterns hang in the air to represent the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Now that Lunar New Year is recognized as an optional state holiday, workers are granted eight hours of free time to celebrate.

Lunar New Year is now being recognized as a California state holiday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2596 on Sept. 29 to represent the diverse communities that currently reside in California. 

Many students celebrate Lunar New Year, including Taiwanese-American Club co-president and junior Beverlyn Tsai.

“Lunar New Year is a time where I can just take a moment to reflect on my heritage,” Tsai said. “I really like the fact that it’s now a state holiday because this just shows that there’s more representation of East Asians in America and allows more time for East Asians and also other people to celebrate this holiday.”

AB 2596 bill authorizes employees in California to use eight hours of vacation, annual leave or time off in recognition of the 15-day East Asian holiday of the Lunar New Year, according to Newsom’s press release.

However, some students, like Taiwanese-American junior Jennifer Pan, have raised concerns over the potential for cultural appropriation with the state-level recognition of the Lunar New Year holiday.

“I think overall, East Asian communities will be pretty positively benefited since it’s a way to connect back to their heritage,” Pan said. “However, I also think this could be kind of bad because there might be different cases where it can become capitalized, where there might be overly-sexualized qipao [a cultural Chinese dress] and people making this out to be something that it shouldn’t be.”

Around one-third of Asian-Americans living in the United States reside in California, according to the Pew Research Center. 

Science teacher Anthony Pham stated that this holiday designation is a step towards improving diverse representation of communities in America. The recognition of the Lunar New Year as a holiday shows improvement in representing the many diverse communities in America, according to science teacher Anthony Pham.

“I’m hoping that more holidays will get recognized from all the different cultures that we have here in America,” Pham said. “I’m hoping that there will be a positive net outcome out of this, so we can see more important holidays for different cultures, religions and backgrounds.”

Lunar New Year holiday will take effect on Feb. 1  for the 2023 year.