Westridge Celebrates Lunar New Year With a Day Off for the First Time


Masami H.

The SALC Lunar New Year dragon dance on January 26, 2022.

This year, as in years past, many Asian students rushed home, elated to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday on February 1st. However, this year the Lunar New Year was a day off for the first time at Westridge. 

Britney Coker, Dean of Upper School Student Activities, was involved in the decision. “We have quite a few students that celebrate the Lunar New Year, and we wanted to make sure that we are being representative of our population,” she said. 

Lunar New Year is celebrated in multiple Asian cultures and countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia, The Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, and Korea. The official federal holiday for Lunar New Year is February 1st, but the celebrations last more than one day. The holiday begins with the first new moon and ends 15 days later on the first full moon of the lunar calendar. People celebrate the Lunar New Year with family gatherings, feasts, and traditions. 

Reactions to the additional day off have been overwhelmingly positive. “I think the Lunar New Year holiday at Westridge would make people feel recognized and their voices heard—that there is this culture at Westridge because we are here, and we are always going to be here,” Emily Z. ’25 said.

Many parents of Asian students were happy that Westridge was recognizing their cultural values and practices. Tiffany Xu, a parent of a current Upper Schooler, often acts as a Language Liaison for Chinese-speaking families. “I think the consensus is, ‘Oh great!’” she said. “This has been something people brought [up] year after year, and I think it is a great acknowledgment that there is this other culture. Baby steps, you know? That is what we always tell ourselves. Whichever milestone we get, it’s great. And it’s something to celebrate and not take for granted.”

Ms. Bonnie Pais Martinez, Upper School Dean of Student Life, felt that this holiday break should have been added to the calendar a long time ago. “This was so long overdue, but I am just so happy. I think it’s all about the way we are reassessing things.”

Although the official holiday of Lunar New Year is February 1st, some students would have preferred to have January 31st as the day off. “The eve is where people do the big thing, where families get together,” said Fiona Z. ’25, who identifies as Chinese and celebrates the Lunar New Year. “There is a reason people celebrate New Year’s eve more than New Year’s day itself. New Year’s day is basically the day after a sleepover. If we were going to have one day off, I would choose the eve [rather] than the actual day because there is more celebration and time to spend with families.”

However, each culture celebrates the Lunar New Year differently, and many celebrate it on multiple or different days, and most agreed that adding the holiday to the calendar as a day off signals Westridge’s commitment to Asian representation and celebration. 

“Having this break that we never had before, I feel like my culture is really being recognized even at school,” Emily Z. ’25 said.