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NYC Lawmakers Want Lunar New Year To Be School Holiday

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Asian Lunar New Year Celebration in Chinatown - New York, NY - Feb 6, 2011 (credit: Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

Asian Lunar New Year Celebration in Chinatown – New York, NY – Feb 6, 2011 (credit: Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork / AP) - Today is the Asian Lunar New Year.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb On The Story

Millions of ethnic Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese across Asia are ringing in the new Year of the Dragon with fireworks, feasting and family reunions.

New York City also has a large Asian population.

That’s why St. Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Grace Meng are the main sponsors of a bill that would designate this day as a school holiday.

“One in six New York City schoolchildren celebrates lunar new year. They shouldn’t have to choose between spending the most important holiday of the year with their family and missing class. This bill would solve that,” Squadron told WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb on Monday.

Squadron says it would have symbolic value.

“Look, the entire world is here in New York and lunar new year is an incredibly important holiday for the city and the state. It shows that we are a city where the whole world is welcomed and can participate,” he said.

Squadron says it is a big deal and we should all be celebrating.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond In Chinatown

Chinatown’s celebration of the Year of the Dragon is an assault on the senses – loud drums, smoky fireworks, and colorful costumes.

“It’s a great celebration to bring all families together. But for the community, for small business, it means a lot more visitors that will patronize their business and support them,” said City Councilwoman Margaret Chin.

She says it’s Chinatown’s busiest week.

“And it’s just a wonderful way to really share the Chinese culture with the rest of the city, and also visitors from around the world,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond.

From Beijing to Bangkok and Seoul to Singapore, people hoping for good luck in the new year that began Monday are visiting temples and lighting incense, setting off firecrackers and watching street performances of lion and dragon dances.

For many, the Lunar New Year is the biggest family reunion of the year for which people endured hours of cramped travel on trains and buses to get home.

In ancient times the dragon was a symbol reserved for the Chinese emperor, and it is considered to be an extremely auspicious sign.

Do you think that it should be a school holiday? Sound off in the comments section below!

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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