Looking to Lunar New Year
By ARIANNA SCAVONNE and NEEVA SHAFIIAN
Mayor Bill DeBlasio recently announced the addition of Asian Lunar New Year and two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, to the New York City public school holiday calendar. Jericho’s Administration is now considering following in these footsteps, as the Jericho staff and student body becomes more diverse. Forty-five percent of Jericho students are Asian, most of whom celebrate Lunar New Year.
School calendars are reviewed at a meeting of Nassau County school superintendents in order to create a uniform calendar in Nassau County. According to Jericho Schools Superintendent Henry Grishman, Nassau County school districts generally meet once a year to discuss the following year’s calendar, so a day off of school would be a decision made nearly two years in advance. “There have been discussions about Lunar New Year and Eid, so it’s possible that your younger brothers and sisters may see Lunar New Year as a scheduled holiday,” said Grishman.
Surprisingly, while most would think that a district’s days off are based on how many students celebrate certain holidays, these holidays are also based on staff obligations and the needs of students’ families. Mr. Grishman said, “The holidays we have off often reflect the demographics of the staff and students.” The scheduling mindset is that it should be a priority to make sure that there are enough staff members who aren’t observing a religious holiday in order to have a meaningful school day. Furthermore, Grishman stated that Jericho students are different; most attend school despite serious events or holidays because Jericho students place a high value on education. Senior Calvin W. stated, “I always come to school on the holidays, even Lunar New Year.”
Jericho senior Marissa S. said, “I’m Jewish and I like having off for Yom Kippur, so I imagine that other students would feel the same about their respective holidays.” Senior Ethan H. said, “As our student body diversifies there are holidays that our calendar should recognize.”
To many, Lunar New Year is of equivalent importance and tradition as the Gregorian New Year. However, tradition on Lunar New Year is typically altered in Asian-American families because of school being in session. Several students reported that they attend school during the day and then delay their family celebrations until the evening. Families tend to stay up later spending time with one another to bring in the new year until the early morning, even when children are going to attend school the next day. Senior, Jihun S. said, “If I were given the opportunity to take off without being penalized for it, then I would definitely do so.” Sophomore Allen L. said that if he wasn’t stressed by the consequences of missing school, he would stay home to celebrate the holiday with his family.
“I believe that it’s really unfair that other holidays are celebrated and ours aren’t,” said Calvin W. Similarly Jihun S. said, “Considering that our school calendar includes other religious and regional holidays, I think that Lunar New Year, which is celebrated by a lot of different ethnicities, should also be included.