The Lunar New Year will be observed in all New York State public schools following legislation signed earlier this month by Governor Kathy Hochul; and a Fayetteville-Manlius High School student had a hand in bringing the case to state lawmakers.
Shuyuan (Sweeney) Luan started a petition during the 2022-23 school year, advocating to her fellow classmates the importance of Lunar New Year to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Shuyuan collected over 1,000 signatures, which prompted her to contact a state senator. From there, Shuyuan was invited to attend a rally last April in Albany, where she gave a speech.
“I am standing here representing tens of thousands of New York Asian American teens,” said Shuyuan in her speech at the state capitol. “When I was a kid living in China, I celebrated Lunar New Year by enjoying a feast, watching shows, and playing games with my cousins until midnight. But most importantly, it allowed me to celebrate my culture and spend time with my family. Don’t you want to spend a day with your families and friends, wishing them health, good luck and happiness? If so, let’s make that happen by recognizing Lunar New Year as an official holiday in the Empire State.”
The Lunar New Year celebrates the first new moon of the lunar calendar. This year, it will take place on February 10, 2024. The holiday symbolizes a fresh start, hope, and prosperity. Families gather to celebrate and look forward to happiness and good fortune in the year ahead.
The new state legislation amended the education law to include Lunar New Year as a public school holiday, meaning classes will not be in session that day.