Tag Archives: lunar new year

New law permits schools to close for more religious and cultural holidays


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo via UrbanUrban_ru/Flickr

For decades, the city closed schools for Christian and Jewish holidays but other religions’ holidays — like Eid al-Fitr and Diwali — didn’t receive the same benefit. But the passage of a new law backed by elected officials in Flushing is changing that.

Assemblyman Ron Kim introduced the legislation, and it was passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Dec. 17. The law allows the Department of Education to consider closing schools on days where large student absences are expected due to religious or cultural days of observance.

“This is about making sure that all Americans, regardless of where we come from, are institutionally recognized as first-class citizens,” Kim said. “Our strength as a democratic society lies in our ability to appreciate diversity and grow together by learning from each other.”

During a press conference, Kim explained that schools in Flushing will now be able to suspend classes for the Lunar New Year, which traditionally occurs in late January or early February. Lunar New Year is one of the most significant holidays for many Chinese, Korean, Japanese and other Asian ethnic groups, all of which are represented in the Flushing community.

The law calls for school districts to consider closing schools on holidays that are important to groups that account for at least 7.5 percent of the local population. In Flushing, 57 percent of the population is of Asian ancestry.

The new law will also affect students of Muslim or Hindu backgrounds, who account for a large share of students in many Queens school districts.

The passage of the bill marks the end of a long struggle that started with Congresswoman Grace Meng when she was a state assemblywoman in 2009 and first introduced a similar bill.

“Clearly, the time has come for our school system to recognize important holidays such as Lunar New Year, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha just as it rightly does for holidays of other cultures and ethnicities,” Meng said. “We now need school districts around the country to follow New York’s lead, and I will continue my efforts on the federal level to accomplish that goal.”

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P.S. 46′s Lunar New Year show celebrates diversity


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo and videos by Melissa Chan

Students at P.S. 46 in Bayside rang in the Year of The Horse Tuesday with a Lunar New Year celebration.

About 125 scholars, kindergarten through fifth grade, took the stage to perform Chinese and Korean dances and songs, as well as the traditional lion dance and martial arts, during the school’s ninth annual assembly.

“We have such a huge Asian population,” said co-coordinator Caroline Galan, a Response to Intervention teacher at the school. “It’s one of our biggest holidays that we celebrate.”

The show could not go on without the help of some 30 parents who came to practice with the students during lunch for about two months, Galan said.

Co-coordinator Hannah Ree, who teaches special education, said the “inclusive” assembly raises awareness of different cultures and celebrates diversity.

“It’s a great way to share who we are and get other children to celebrate with us,” she said. “It gives everyone an opportunity to be a part of this.”

 

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P.S. 203 rings in Year of the Horse with Lunar New Year celebration


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

The majestic horse was the star of the show Friday at P.S. 203’s Lunar New Year assembly.

Students from the Bayside school shuffled into the auditorium, under the cover of the 12 Chinese zodiac calendar animals.

One by one, each ornately decorated animal paraded down the halls, before giving center stage to the mare with the pink bow.

“It takes a whole school — parents, teachers, children, everyone — to really make this event happen,” said Principal Carole Nussbaum.

Planning for the hour-long assembly began in October, Nussbaum said.

Students celebrated with Chinese and Korean dances and songs, and a buffet of cultural treats.

“I am always impressed by the talent and passion of the students of P.S. 203,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, “and that is a reflection of the excellence of the staff and administration here.” 

 

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Celebrate the Year of the Horse with Lunar New Year events in Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

The Year of the Horse is galloping in with an array of exciting cultural festivities. 

This Lunar New Year, celebrated on Jan. 31, marks the 4,712th year on the Chinese calendar.

Regarded as one of the most important holidays in the Far East, Lunar New Year is customarily celebrated with a lively parade — complete with fiery, ornate dragons — and a colorful fireworks display.

CLICK HERE TO SEE LAST YEAR’S LUNAR NEW YEAR PARADE IN FLUSHING

Each year is named for one of the 12 figures of the Chinese zodiac.

To many, the horse is a symbol of competition, victory and the pursuit of freedom and passion.

“The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people’s ethos — making unremitting efforts to improve themselves,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “Such is also the spirit of the Flushing community.”

“With several projects taking off in northeast Queens, 2014 will bring exciting changes to Flushing and its surrounding area,” Koo said.

New Yorkers hoping to celebrate the Lunar New Year need not look very far.

Chinatown in Manhattan will ignite with New Year spirit Feb. 2, as the 15th annual parade dances downtown, starting at Little Italy through Chinatown at 1 p.m.

In Queens, on Feb. 8, Flushing will flood with festival-goers watching the 18th annual Lunar New Year Parade as it makes its way down Main Street.

Booths dishing out ethnic treats are set to line the streets for attendees hoping to grab a tasty snack while watching a beautiful fireworks display.

It is expected to start around 10 a.m. on Union Street and 37th Avenue. It usually ends at Main Street and 39th Avenue.

Last year, thousands flocked to the celebration to ring in the Year of the Snake.

Flushing Town Hall (FTH) also has a two-month lineup of music, art, dancing, calligraphy and mask making to celebrate the holiday and its rich history that dates back centuries.

“Since the inception of this festival at Flushing Town Hall, the Lunar New Year events have been able to bridge generational divides and unify cultures throughout Queens and abroad,” FTH Executive Director Ellen Kodadek said. “It’s a wonderful way to kick off the dawn of a new year.”

 

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Federal, state and city officials: ‘Make Lunar New Year an official school holiday’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

State lawmakers have strengthened a renewed push to make Lunar New Year an official school holiday, garnering support from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Students shouldn’t feel like they have to choose between celebrating their heritage and missing a day of school,” the newly-risen speaker said.

The City Council plans to introduce two resolutions, calling for schools to close and metered parking to be suspended on one of the most important holidays of the year in Asian communities, Mark-Viverito said.

Multiple other measures have been introduced in the state and federal levels that call for a similar break for families.

A bill that would establish Lunar New Year as a school holiday for districts with an Asian-American population of at least 7.5 percent has been introduced in the State Senate and Assembly for years.

Flushing is the only neighborhood in Queens to meet the criteria, along with Chinatown in downtown Manhattan.

While it has made no movement in the past, elected officials gathered Friday in downtown Flushing to declare 2014 the year of action.

“This is the year and this is the time we believe it’s going to happen,” said Councilmember Paul Vallone, who is drafting a bill that would suspend metered parking that day.

About 14 percent of city students in the school system are Asian-American, Mark-Viverito said.

Officials have long argued absence rates in some city schools climb 80 percent on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Though observing students are “excused,” the absence is marked on their record.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, who spearheaded the Assembly’s attempts during her last tenure, proposed a resolution in Congress this month, asking local education agencies that include the city’s Department of Education to close schools that day.

“One day, we’ll look back and see that we made history,” said Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.

 

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Pols: Lunar New Year should be school holiday


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of State Senator Daniel Squadron's Office

Flushing and Chinatown lawmakers are still pushing to get the city to recognize Lunar New Year as an official school holiday.

“It’s time we show the proper respect to the Asian-American community,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “Lunar New Year is a time when families, from near and far, come together to celebrate.”

Absence rates in some city schools climb 80 percent on the first day of the Lunar New Year, elected officials said. Though observing students are “excused,” the absence is marked on their record.

“On the day of the Lunar New Year, classrooms are emptied out,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “People should not have to choose between spending their most important holiday with their family and going to school.”

Legislation in the State Senate and Assembly would establish Lunar New Year as a school holiday for districts with an Asian-American population of at least 7.5 percent based on the 2000 Census.

Flushing is the only neighborhood in Queens to meet the criteria, along with Chinatown in downtown Manhattan.
The bill had been introduced years ago, but no movement has been made, officials said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reportedly rejected the idea in the past. His office did not comment.

“Lunar New Year is a time of coming together and renewal for the nearly one million Asian New Yorkers of different ethnicities who celebrate the holiday,” said Chris Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality. “It is not the same if someone cannot be home to celebrate with the family and the community.”

 

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Travel Advisory for Flushing Lunar New Year Celebration


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Asian Lunar New Year will be celebrated in Flushing this weekend with a parade and fireworks display set for Saturday, February 4. No. 7 trains will operate between Queensboro Plaza and Flushing-Main Street, but will be suspended between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square-42ndStreet.  Parade-goers coming from Manhattan should take the “N” or “Q” to Queensboro Plaza and transfer to the Flushing-bound No. 7.  There will be extra “N” service and “Q” service will be extended to Ditmars Boulevard to provide more connections to the No. 7.  Customers may also take the “E” or “F” to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue and transfer to the Flushing-bound No.  7.

The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. on 39th Avenue between Main Street and 138th Street.  It proceeds east on 39th Avenue and turns right on Union Street traveling south to Sanford Avenue and then east to Main Street.  From there, the parade travels north on Main Street to conclude at 39th Avenue.  The fireworks display will take place at the Queens Crossing Mall at 39th Avenue beginning at 12:30 p.m.

The following bus routes operate in the area of the parade route and may be subject to reroutes:  Q12, Q13, Q15/15A, Q16, Q17, Q19, Q20A, Q20B, Q25, Q27, Q28, Q44, Q48, Q50, Q58, Q65 and Q66.

For more information visit www.mta.info.

‘Year of the Dragon’ roars in


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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The Year of the Dragon is upon us, roaring in and carrying with it an array of exciting cultural festivities. This Lunar New Year, celebrated on January 23, marks the 4,709th year on the Chinese calendar. Regarded as one of the most important holidays in the Far East, Lunar New Year is customarily celebrated with a lively parade — complete with a fiery, ornate dragon — and a colorful fireworks display.

Each year is named for one of the 12 figures of the Chinese zodiac. According to Kathy Hung, executive director of the New York Chinese Cultural Center, the Year of the Dragon — the sixth figure of the zodiac — symbolizes royalty and many feel it is extremely lucky to have a baby born during this year.

Hung added that those observing the holiday spend Lunar New Year’s Eve with their relatives, collectively attempting to stay awake as long as possible. She remarked that staying up late is done while holiday observers pray for longer life and luck in the New Year. Envelopes are traditionally handed out to members of the family, enclosed with letters of good fortune. Children generally receive money on this holiday, so that they may purchase new clothing and other necessary items for the New Year.

Families observing the holiday will string traditional decorations such as glowing red paper lanterns and banners inscribed with phrases like “good fortune,” “happiness” and “longevity” throughout their homes. Messages of luck are abundant during this holiday, as it signifies the future and plentiful opportunity.

According to Hung, firecrackers are traditionally set off during the holiday to scare away evil.

New Yorkers hoping to celebrate the Lunar New Year need not look very far. On January 29, Chinatown will ignite with New Year spirit as a parade dances through lower Manhattan.

In Queens on February 4, Flushing will flood with festival goers watching the 16th annual Lunar New Year Parade as it makes its way down Main Street. Booths dishing out ethnic treats are set to line the streets for attendees hoping to grab a tasty snack while watching a beautiful fireworks display.

Flushing Town Hall is hosting a variety of events as well over the weekend of February 4 and 5. A free dance sampler will he held on February 4, displaying a variety of performances in styles from China, Korea, India, Thailand, Taiwan and the Pacific Islands. On February 5, participants can craft their own Chinese dragons while learning about the creature’s wise and prosperous characteristics. Instructors will also teach attendees how to make lucky Korean bags, traditionally made to contain wishes for the upcoming year.