Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

CNY Asian community celebrates measure declaring Lunar New Year a school holiday

A man in a blue polo shirt and a girl in a yellow checkered dress hold a yellow and orange sign that says "Making Lunar New Year an official holiday"
Scott Willis
Tai Ngo Shaw, left, and Shu-Yuan Luan hold up a sign she used to urge classmates to sign a petition calling for New York State to recognize the Lunar New Year as a school holiday Sept. 11, 2023.

Members of Central New York’s Asian community are celebrating what they see as a significant victory in recognition of a key piece of their culture. Governor Kathy Hochul on Saturday signed legislation declaring the Lunar New Year a school holiday. Shu-Yuan Luan came to Syracuse from China about year ago. But the Fayetteville Manlius high school senior wasn't shy about gathering hundreds of petition signatures from classmates to send to lawmakers and the governor.

“I told them the importance of these holiday and how this holiday can then let us have a public school holiday, so we don't have the homework," Luan said. "So they were really happy about that. I think my schoolmates are really nice. So as soon as they knew it was important to me and the other Asian students, they got involved.”

Luan says she used Instagram to reach even more students. But she never expected her efforts would help push the measure over the finish line.

“I was so excited and so happy about that. But when I was doing all the things I've done, I never thought about like it will come true. I just want to put my effort to this event because it is really important to us.”

Tai Ngo Shaw is chairman of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association and longtime advocate and organizer in Syracuse. He says the Lunar New Year’s importance can’t be underestimated.

“We celebrate the [Lunar] New Year but it never give us to an opportunity to be together," Shaw said. "Everyone else have the holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Jewish holidays, the African holidays, Latino holidays. There are 7.1 billion of us. We all celebrate our most same day, it’s the Lunar New Year.”

Shaw says this way, children can be home to celebrate with their families. He counts this as a third victory for New York’s Asian Community in 2023. The others were the API summit in Rochester, and the new Asian Village at the New York State Fair. The next Lunar New Year is February 10th. Because that’s a Saturday, the school calendar isn’t expected to change.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at