New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday morning that Asian Lunar New Year, considered one of the most important holidays in Asian culture, would become an official public school holiday, a reversal from just a few months ago when the mayor’s office had said it would not be added to next year’s calendar.
“The mayor’s pledge and today’s addition of Lunar New Year to the school calendar send a strong and meaningful message that as the city changes, the school calendar must change with it,” New York state Sen. Daniel Squadron, a Democrat whose district includes Chinatown, told NBC News in an email.
The mayor’s office first made the announcement on Twitter Monday evening, saying it “was working toward a more inclusive city.” The tweet also appeared in traditional Chinese characters and in Korean.
De Blasio’s decision to add Asian Lunar New Year to the school calendar came amid mounting pressure from local, state and federally elected officials, as well as community leaders, who were upset that his administration made two Muslim holy days — Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr — official holidays, but not Asian Lunar New Year.
For New Yorkers, of whom roughly one in eight are Asian, the mayor’s announcement Tuesday was a welcome relief. When Asian Lunar New Year falls on a weekday, as it does next year, many Asian parents take their children out of school, which results in an excused absence on their attendance record. In a public school system in which one in six students is Asian, absentee rates on Asian Lunar New Year could be as high as 80 percent in some schools.