First Capitol billing for Lunar New Year

Updated: 2016-02-11 13:16

By Hua Shengdun in Washington(China Daily USA)

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First Capitol billing for Lunar New Year

From left: Mike Honda and Ami Bera, California congressmen; Grace Meng, New York congresswoman; Ted Lieu, California congressman, and Mark Takai, a US representative from Hawaii, attend the fi rst Congressional Lunar New Year Celebration and Reception in Washington on Wednesday. Dong Leshuo / China Daily

The symbolic meaning could not be overestimated, as Asian-American politicians praised the first celebration of the Lunar New Year in the US Capitol on Wednesday.

“I think it is important to recognize that we have it celebrated in one of these Congress buildings, because it is a powerful statement that the US respects and honors the Lunar New Year,” said Ted Lieu, a Democratic US representative from California’s 33rd District.

The First Annual Congressional Lunar New Year Celebration and Reception was sponsored by Asian- American and Pacific Islander organizations in collaboration with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) at the Capitol Building in Washington.

“The demographic of the US is changing. In decades, there will be 80 percent of American immigrants coming from Asian countries. The rate of immigration form countries like China and Philippines will outpace the immigration of Latin America in coming decades,” Lieu said.

More than 100 guests attended the event. There was another first for Lunar New Year this week.

“For the very first time, our public schools were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday in New York,” said Grace Meng, a Democratic US representative from the 6th District in Queens, New York. “We have been fi ghting for this for so many years.”

“I hope not only New York City but beyond that throughout the whole country, there will be more people to recognize this traditional festival,” Meng said in opening remarks.

Mike Honda, a Democratic congressman from California’s 17th District, said: “Every day that passes, there have been more and more respects to diff erent cultures, and the US welcomes them into the fabric of America. This is a great step forward.”

Red lanterns were displayed in the ballroom, and a lion dance and Korean traditional dance were performed at the event.

“The celebration is the proof that the US is a country of diverse cultures. It is diversity that gives our country the strength,” said Ami Bera, a Democratic US representative from California’s 7th District.

“I hope it can be a tradition every year in Congress,” Lieu said. “Lunar New Year is celebrated by one fifth of the world’s population. It is very important for Asian Americans to have our own holiday.”

Pan Jialiang in Washington contributed to this story.