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California moves Lunar New Year bill

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-04-20 23:09

The California State Senate on Thursday passed a bill to officially recognize Lunar New Year and encourage awareness of the day's cultural significance statewide. Now it's on to the Assembly.

Senate Bill 892, authored by senators Richard Pan and Scott Wiener, designates Lunar New Year as a day of special significance in California and requires the governor to honor Lunar New Year every year.

The measure also encourages all public schools and educational institutions to conduct exercises recognizing the traditions and cultural significance of Lunar New Year, the contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander Californians to the state and any local festivities and celebrations for the occasion.

"Millions of people in California celebrate the traditions of the Lunar New Year that are transmitted from one generation to the next," said Pan, who represents the Sacramento region. He said this bill will help recognize the rich history of one of the most celebrated events worldwide.

Since the bill was proposed on Jan 19, Pan and Wiener, along with Assembly members David Chiu and Phil Ting, also co-authors of the bill, hosted celebrations at the state building and in Chinatown to help promote the traditional festival.

"Lunar New Year is a centerpiece of the rich cultural heritage that our diverse Asian and Pacific Islander community brings to our state," said Wiener, who represents San Francisco. He said he is looking forward to helping get the bill through the Assembly.

Lunar New Year falls generally on the second new moon following the winter solstice, which this year is Feb 16.

Many jurisdictions in California, including the city and county of San Francisco, have already designated Lunar New Year as an official school holiday. The state board of education recognized Lunar New Year as a festival of special relevance in its third grade curriculum in 2016.

In the Cupertino Union School District, where two-thirds of the students are of Asian descent, the Lunar New Year is not yet an official school holiday.

But last year, at the suggestion of some parents, the school board moved the staff learning day to the Lunar New Year so students and teachers had a day off to celebrate the holiday.

"A school holiday allows students to learn diverse cultural traditions in the Bay Area," said Yan Qiu, a Chinese-American parent in Cupertino. "We have seen more and more celebrations and activities during the Lunar New Year, such as at libraries and parks.

"I hope Lunar New Year will become a public holiday like Thanksgiving and Christmas, so children can enjoy the holiday with their parents, which is the true value and meaning of this traditional holiday," she added.


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