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'It makes me proud that we're being recognized' | Lunar New Year now a state holiday in California

State employees will now be able to take the day off to observe the Lunar New Year.

CALIFORNIA, USA — A new bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom is honoring an important cultural holiday in a new way. AB 2596 recognizes Lunar New Year as an official state holiday. 

It's one of the most important festivals celebrated across Asian countries as well as the Asian diaspora, and festivities can last up to two weeks. The Lunar New Year is based on the lunar calendar and begins with the first new moon and ends on the first full moon. 

Dorcas Yee, the vice president of communications for OCA Sacramento, identifies as Chinese and celebrates the Lunar New Year every year.

"Immediately, I started texting my friends and family and told them about this great news so we could celebrate together," Yee said. 

According to a press release from Gov. Newsom, state employees can now use eight hours of vacation, annual leave, or compensate time off in lieu of receiving eight hours of personal holiday credit to celebrate the holiday. 

Newsom said that recognizing Lunar New Year as a state holiday "acknowledges the diversity and cultural significance Asian Americans bring to California." 

"It makes me proud that we're being recognized. It's important that we understand the different cultural holidays because it does celebrate the diversity of our state and share the connections we have with one another," Yee said. 

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To Yee, the Lunar New Year signifies family and traditions. She recalled some of her favorite memories-  cleaning and adorning the house with red, as well as receiving red envelopes with money inside to signal good luck. 

"And of course, hearing stories from my grandparents about the past, what they went through and our plans for the future," Yee said. 

As for what Lunar New Year celebrations will be like for Yee in the future, she said she's excited to pass down what she was taught. 

"As I look back to the celebrations that I've experienced as a child and also as an adult, I've seen the evolution and the change of traditions, and I'm looking forward to being able to pass down similar traditions to my children and my future grandchildren," Yee said. 

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