Kids attending public school in New York in 2024 will have a little more time on their hands: Two holidays have been recognized by the state, though only one will take effect statewide.
Last fall, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new law mandating that all public schools be closed to students on Lunar New Year in February. Hochul also announced that the state will recognize Diwali as a school holiday in November, though only for New York City schools.
The inclusion of Lunar New Year is intended to acknowledge the state’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The holiday is in honor of the first new moon of the lunar calendar and is celebrated by Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean cultures. As of 2019, New York was estimated to have the country’s second-largest Asian American population at 1.9 million, behind California’s 6.7 million.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a five-day celebration originating in India and is celebrated by those who observe the Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist faiths, though it’s not limited to them. Some observe Diwali by buying jewelry for luck and cleaning their homes to attract good fortune. Roughly one billion people around the world recognize the holiday.
While New York aims to be more inclusive of its many cultures, adding holidays to the school calendar is a tricky balancing act. The state mandates 180 days of instruction for students each year. Newly-recognized holidays can mean scheduling additional lesson days or reducing general vacation time to accommodate federal holidays, snow days, and others.
This year, Lunar New Year falls on February 10, a Saturday, which means schools will have flexibility on when to mark the occasion. Diwali is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Indian calendar, which will be November. The exact days off will depend on the school district.
[h/t 98.1 The Hawk]