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Asian American Identity is No Longer an Either Or Proposition

Lunar New Year, New York

By Louis Chan

AsAmNews National Correspondent

The Spokesman-Review published a 100-year-old article from its archives this weekend that got me thinking about how far Asian Americans have come feeling more comfortable with their identity.

The article talked about a riff in Spokane, Washington’s  Chinese community between those who wanted to celebrate the Chinese New Year versus the American New Year.  They apparently had decided 100 years ago that they would drop the Chinese New Year celebration in favor of the celebration on January 1. However, as the date drew closer, a significant contingent voiced their opposition to that decision and pushed for Chinese New Year festivities instead

Of course, today, nothing like that would even come close to happening. The overwhelmingly majority of Asian Americans celebrate both the calendar New Year and the Lunar New Year. Chinese, Korean, and Southeast Asian Americans each have their own unique traditions. Even Japanese Americans, who do not celebrate the Lunar New Year, have Oshogatsu which is celebrated on January 1. Traditional foods are prepared and Shimenawa New Year’s wreaths are made.

Most of those outside the Asian American community today are accepting, for the most part, of these different traditions, and both welcome and encourage it. What makes the Asian American identity unique and special is that we no longer have to decide between one culture or the other. America is a stain glass window made up of various cultures with the end result a beautiful mosaic.

The fact that we can celebrate two New Years with equal gusto is part of our cultural identity. Let the New Year remind us we are not just Asian or American, but we are Asian American and that’s what makes this country so special.

That’s how I feel about it. Let us know what you think in our comments section below.




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