California has done it and now Washington may follow suit.
State Rep. My-Linh Thai has sponsored a bill, HB 1516, which would make Lunar New Year a state holiday. The bill has been scheduled for public hearing on Feb. 8.
Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in Asian countries, and one of the most widely celebrated among Asian Americans.
According to the latest census numbers, there are 662,000 Asians and Asian Americans living in Washington state.
Last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill declaring Lunar New Year to be a state holiday—as a way to “acknowledge the diversity and cultural significance Asian Americans bring to California,” he said in his signing message. The designation in California is largely symbolic, because the law as enacted didn’t make the holiday a paid day off for state employees.
A similar effort is under way at the national level. Rep, Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York, introduced a bill last year that would have made Lunar New Year the 12th federally commemorated holiday. (The 11th was created in 2021, when President Biden signed a bill establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.) Meng re-introduced the bill last month.
“I was thrilled to help New York City be among the first municipalities to make Lunar New Year a public school holiday, and I am honored to continue leading this effort at the federal level,” Meng said. “Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in our country, and it is important that our history and culture be recognized as part of this nation’s shared culture.”
Lunar New Year celebrates the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. People often celebrate with festivals, special foods, gatherings with family and loved ones, and a variety of cultural traditions and performances. This year celebrates the Year of the Rabbit, which is considered the luckiest of the 12 animals that are assigned to the Zodiac calendar.