The Daily Q: What other American cities have a school holiday on Lunar New Year?

What other American cities have a school holiday on Lunar New Year?

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Lunar New Year, and in the United States some cities and towns with large Asian communities had a school holiday. Despite its large and diverse Asian communities, New York City does not have a school holiday on the Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year. State Senator Daniel L. Squadron and Assemblywoman Grace Meng are trying to change that. For the past three years they have asked Mayor Bloomberg  to declare the New Year a school holiday pointing out that about 15 percent of students in the city’s school system are Asian.

That got us at the New York World wondering: Where else in the United States is Lunar New Year a school holiday? 

If you have information or insights to share, please comment below, write us, or tweet to @thenyworld.

What we found

San Francisco’s Unified School District, where more than half the students are of Asian descent, remains the only large district in the nation to give students Lunar New Year off as a holiday, as it has since 1994. The only other examples we could find were in Tenafly and Holmdel, towns in New Jersey that have sizable Chinese American populations. For districts in other cities with large Chinese-American populations – the biggest are Honolulu, Oakland, San Jose, New York and Plano, Texas — Lunar New Year is a school day like any other. 

Scholars of the Asian American experience say they’re not surprised the holiday isn’t more widely honored with school closings. Elaine Kim, an Asian American Studies professor at UC Berkeley, points out that many Asian Americans simply don’t observe the lunar new year. “Japanese Americans haven’t for a long time, and some Korean Americans observe solar and others lunar,” wrote Kim in an email The New York World. What’s more, those who do observe are accustomed to waiting for a weekend. “Those who observe lunar have often adjusted their observances,” she said. “If lunar new year’s day falls on a Monday, they observe on a Sunday.”

Data Tools


Our work has appeared in…

About TNYW

The New York World focuses on producing data-driven investigative projects.