Lunar New Year: Bidens host White House reception

On Thursday, President Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted the White House's first large-scale Lunar New Year celebration. During their remarks, the Bidens honored those killed in shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, Calif., and called for solidarity with the Asian American community and for a time of renewal in the spirit of the holiday.

Video Transcript

JILL BIDEN: It's an honor to be with all of you here for the first Lunar New Year reception at the White House.


JOE BIDEN: You know, I know several members of Congress wanted to attend here tonight, because they wanted to be able to. But they have votes up on the Hill, including my dear friend Judy Chu. Judy is chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and a former mayor of Monterey Bay. I spoke with Judy several days ago and said "Judy, what should I do? Should I continue-- should I be in California? Or should I still have this celebration?"

And she felt very strongly. She said, "We have to move forward." Her message was, don't give in to fear and sorrow. Don't do that. Stand in solidarity and the spirit of toughness that this holiday is all about. She went on to say, that's what folks are doing back in California and across the country, providing counseling support, transition services for the victims' families, holding candlelight vigils and bringing people together, and showing that, even with heavy hearts, we have unbreakable spirits. So that's what we're going to do tonight. But be there for each other.

For centuries, families in Asia and the United States and all around the world have gathered to celebrate the first moon of the new year. It's a time of renewal and reflection, hope and possibilities, for good over evil, for sharing meals, for celebrating fire-- no firecrackers tonight.


No, I'm serious. I was thinking about that, you know? If things hadn't been like them in the last couple of years, we should have fireworks outside. But celebrating, you know, with firecrackers and dance, we got dance, honoring your ancestors while passing down traditions to the next generation.

All of you here and across the country have opened your hearts and homes to friends and neighbors who wish each other a prosperous new year, full of good health and good fortune. So to start the new tradition of the nation for holidays that where a home is central, Jill and I are honored to welcome you to the first Lunar New Year reception of this scale held in the White House, your home. This is your home.

Now, this is the people's house, for real. Jill and I are very temporary residents in this home. But all kidding aside--

- Not too temporary

JOE BIDEN: Well, God.


Let me close with this, the Lunar New Year ends with the hanging of those red lanterns, to symbolize letting go of the past and committing to new beginnings. Well, I mean this sincerely. You've heard me say many times, I've never been more optimistic in my life about the future of this country and the ability to unify this country. I really mean it.

As we gather here today, let's recommit to the work of standing together and taking care of one another. Let's do the work of spreading hope, joy, love. So from the Biden family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous new year. And please enjoy the reception on the wonderful program that's about to begin.