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Happy Lunar New Year!: On Feb. 1, 2022, it officially became the Year of the Tiger.

Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, is a holiday that often marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It’s often associated with Asian cultures, many of whom have traditionally used a lunar calendar to pass time rather than the solar calendar that the Gregorian calendar is based on. Since the lunar and solar calendars don’t match up, Lunar New Year falls on a different day every year. This year, Lunar New Year was celebrated on Tuesday, Feb. 1 of 2022.

2022 is the Year of the Tiger. In the Chinese zodiac, different animals correlate with different personality types. People born in the Year of the Tiger are supposed to be courageous, confident, and ambitious. They also have lots of enthusiasm; however, they tend to work alone, despite often getting along well with others. There are also subtypes of each zodiac sign depending on the rotation of elemental associations (earth, metal, wood, fire, water), which are said to affect your personality, as well as the zodiac animal associated with the hour you were born in. Like all astrological systems, there are multiple factors in determining personality qualities, and people are not a monolith in terms of engagement with this astrology.

There are many ways to celebrate Lunar New Year. In Vietnam, bánh chung, a type of sticky rice cake, are eaten, and people visit friends and family members. In Malaysia, many celebrants enjoy a dish called yeesang made of fish and vegetables. Most Americans are familiar with Chinese traditions surrounding the Lunar New Year, which include decorations of red and gold for good luck, children receiving red envelopes with money in them, dragon parades, and fireworks to ward off bad luck.

Recently, there’s been conversation about making Lunar New Year a federal holiday in America. The bill was introduced on Jan. 28, but it has not yet been passed. If it were passed, schools and workplaces would be able to take the day off, though requirements to enforce that would vary based on state legislation. This move to make Lunar New Year a federal holiday is a push to recognize “the cultural and historical significance of Lunar New Year” and to “send a strong signal to the Asian-American community… that they are valued.” The bill was introduced by Rep. Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York. Meng is Taiwanese-American and grew up in Queens, New York.

If this bill is passed, Lunar New Year will be the twelfth federal holiday. The Washington Post highlights the significance of this bill coming in 2022, as Asian Americans have faced particular marginazliations during the pandemic. Anti-Asian American hate crimes rose dramatically in 2020, prompted by inflammatory rhetoric surrounding the coronavirus; in response, the organization Stop AAPI Hate was created in March 2020. It “tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.” If you’d like to learn more about their mission or support them, check out their website at stopaapihate.org. 

Sources: The Year of the Tiger: What to know about Lunar New Year – CNET, Year of the Tiger: Fortune and Personality – Chinese Zodiac (chinesenewyear.net), About – Stop AAPI Hate, Lunar New Year could be newest federal holiday if Rep. Grace Meng’s proposal passes – The Washington Post

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