The year of the dragon is upon us! What makes Lunar New Year extra special this year is that it will be the first time Colorado recognizes Lunar New Year as a state holiday.
Last year, on June 2, 2023, Gov. Jared Polis signed HB23-1271 designating Lunar New Year as an observed state holiday in Colorado.
Colorado is the second state, after California, to recognize Lunar New Year as a holiday.
The bill reads: “Increasing the visibility of cultural traditions that are widely celebrated among the Asian diaspora would serve as a counterbalance to the marginalization that many in the Asian American community have encountered over the years.”
The primary bill sponsors were: Colorado House Representative Matt Soper, Colorado House Representative Serena Gonzalez Gutierrez, and Colorado Senator (Senadora) Julie Gonzalez.
The bill was advocated for under the leadership of the Lunar New Year Allies Advisory (LUNA) Group.
“Our Lunar New Year Allies Advisory Group and Colorado made history! We solidified one of the most significant holidays for our Asian community by ensuring its permanence for our state and our community,” said Nga Vương-Sandoval, Chair, LUNA Group.
Since Lunar New Year Day changes each year based upon the lunar calendar, the Colorado holiday will be recognized annually on the first Friday in February.
On June 20, 2023, more than 400 community members celebrated the historic passing of HB23-1271 at the History Colorado Center.
Now in January 2024, families are starting to tidy and clean their homes to sweep out any bad energy for the coming year.
Lunar New Year traditions include: putting up decorations, offering sacrifices to ancestors, eating reunion dinner with family on New Year’s Eve, giving red envelopes and other gifts, firecrackers and fireworks, and watching lion and dragon dances.
Eating lucky foods also help to ring in the new year. These include: dumplings, longevity noodles, whole steamed fish, sticky rice balls, and oranges.
Ahead of New Year’s Day on February 10, 2024, markets and gift shops such as Truong An Gifts or Great Wall Supermarket sell decorations, red envelopes, toys, clothes, trinkets, and snacks.
In Colorado, dozens of Lunar New Year events ranging from gala dinners to cultural performances to festivals will take place in January and February.