Chinese Lunar New Year now a public holiday in California, USA

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The Spring Festival is also gaining popularity in the U.S. despite the anti-China sentiment orchestrated by a few hawkish populist politicians in the U.S. in recent years. The celebration of the festival has been around in the U.S. for more than two centuries since the arrival of the first wave of Chinese immigrants as railroad workers on the trans-continental railroad such as the Central Pacific Railroad around 1815.

Since then, Spring Festival has been merely an ethnic holiday within Chinese/Asian-American families, Chinese/Asian American communities such as Chinatown/Koreatown. Americans who are non-Chinese/Asian would get to know about the Lunar New Year either in Chinatown or via mass media such as the film Joy Luck Club.

During the past several decades, especially during the past ten years after China became rich and prosperous, large numbers of middle and upper-middle Chinese have migrated, especially the U.S., more particularly on the East Coast and West Coast.

To be culturally inclusive and respectful of the population of Chinese/Asian heritage, both New York City and the State of California have designated the Chinese New Year as public holidays.

While New York City public schools were closed for the first time in its history on the day of the Chinese New Year on February 6, 2016 to join the Lunar New Year celebrations, Governor Brown signed the State of California Senate Bill 892 into law and officially designated the Lunar New Year as a state holiday in California in 2018. This bicoastal recognition of the Lunar New Year as a public holiday in New York City and California is one step closer to nationwide recognition.

True understanding can only occur at the level of cultures. In the Year of the Pig which will begin on February 6, 2019, in the Christian calendar, it is hoped that more and more people such as Americans will try to understand China/Asia and people of Asian heritage in their respective countries in terms of their heritage culture. To understand their heritage culture, one is advised to start with an effort to immerse oneself in the celebration of the Lunar New Year. So, to start with, go ahead and join a Lunar New Year parade in cities around the world.

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