Community reacts to new Lunar New Year bill


Community group club, FHDA Chinese Campus Evangelical Ministry, poses for a photo while they celebrate the 2022 Lunar New Year. (Photo courtesy of Maggie Singman)

Lauren Linh Bui, Freelance Reporter

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2596 on Sept. 29, making the Lunar New Year an official holiday in the state of California.

Lunar New Year is a festival celebrated throughout Asia and the Asian diaspora all over the world and signifies the beginning of the new year. 

Chen Yi Ho playing Mahjong, a traditional Chinese game, while celebrating the Lunar New Year in 2022. (Photo courtesy of Chen Yi Ho)

President of De Anza’s Malaysian and Singaporean Association Chen Yi Ho, 19, is Malaysian-Chinese and celebrates the Lunar New Year every year. 

“This bill means a lot to my culture because it shows how diversified California is,” Ho said. “It shows that we, Asians, are accepted and recognized in California. I think that’s what every Asian wants.”

Maggie Singman, 19, computer science major, is Taiwanese and has lived in Shanghai, China, for nine years. She said Newsom has shown he values Asian culture. 

“My first reaction was surprised because I was just really happy that the Asian culture is embraced in the U.S., especially in California, where there’s a big population of Asians,” Singman said. 

Kathy Nguyen, 19, psychology major, is Vietnamese and says that Lunar New Year is her favorite holiday. 

“Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays for our country. For me, it is also my favorite holiday,” Nguyen said. 

The Lunar New Year bill will let any state worker use eight hours of vacation, annual leave, or compensating time off instead of getting eight hours of personal holiday credit. 

Singman said that before the bill was signed, she couldn’t celebrate Lunar New Year at the same time with her relatives in Shanghai due to time conflict and no time off.

“There’s 14 hours difference between here and Shanghai so it’s already difficult. When I celebrate here, I usually call my relatives in Shanghai but they already celebrated.”

Similarly, Ho said his family couldn’t go out for dinner because they didn’t have enough time. 

Kathy Nguyen holds li xi, the Vietnamese version of red envelopes, or lucky money, for Lunar New Year in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Nguyen)

“Before, we’d just have a normal dinner and give each other red envelopes because we would always have school and work for the next day,” Ho said. “Now, I can actually bring my friends and spend a whole day together, maybe even go for a short trip.”

Nguyen said she will have more time with her brother now that the bill has passed.

“Having 8 hours extra, I will have more time to hang out with my brother. We’ll go to my relative’s house, go to the church, get lucky money, and traditionally, we’ll gamble too.”

According to Assembly Bill 2596, the bill provides an opportunity for all Californians to participate in the significance of the Lunar New Year.

Erica Jane Almira, 20, literature major, is Filipino. She said her family didn’t celebrate the Lunar New Year but she celebrated it with her friends. 

“My friends and I went to a temple to pray even though we prayed to different Gods,” Almira said. “We got incenses and my friend gave me a charm. So I definitely learned some aspects of that holiday.”  

Ho said he hopes everyone can come together and celebrate the Lunar New Year.

“Back in those days, Christmas was a religious holiday,” Ho said. “Now everybody celebrates Christmas. I want Lunar New Year to become a holiday like Christmas too.”