Celebrating Asian American heritage in the U.S. [photo gallery]

Each May, the United States celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, honoring AANHPI people’s rich history and contributions to the country.

Numerous Asian American ethnicities and cultures enrich American life with an array of languages and experiences, President Biden said in the 2022 proclamation for AANHPI month.

“Our Nation recognizes the innumerable contributions, vibrant cultures, and rich heritage of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders,” Biden said. Asian Americans “have long played an essential role in writing the American story.”

Here is a sample of a few recent celebrations of AANHPI heritage across the United States.

2 women dancing in traditional Balinese clothing (© Steve Kwak)
(© Steve Kwak)

In 2022, the Maryland governor’s office celebrated the AANHPI community with performances of Balinese dance (above); Korean drumming and flute; Beijing opera, which includes a mix of music and acrobatics, as well as of Chinese yoyo; and Cambodian, Indian, Bangla and Mongolian dances.

Diptych. Left: Woman showing drawing to child (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gabrielle Joyner). Right: Person drawing on child's arm (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Davis)
Left: (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gabrielle Joyner) Right: (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Davis)

Celebrations provide an opportunity to share AANHPI traditions. At U.S. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii (left) a volunteer teaches children about origami during heritage month festivities in 2017. At a 2022 AANHPI celebration (right) a child receives a lesson in traditional Pacific Island body art at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.

Man wearing island dress speaking into microphone (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Randahl J. Jenson)
(U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Randahl J. Jenson)

A man dressed in Pacific Island attire leads a 2018 AANHPI celebration at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. The festivities included traditional dancing, crafts and food from various Asian communities.

Diptych. Left: Woman applauding man using chopsticks (Texas National Guard/Army Capt. Martha Nigrelle). Right: Clear cups containing sticky rice and mango chunks (U.S. Air Force/Kemberly Groue)
Left: (Texas National Guard/Army Captain Martha Nigrelle) Right: (U.S. Air Force/Kemberly Groue)

Many celebrations carry on the global pastime of sharing culture through food. In Austin, Texas, a U.S. Army sergeant (left) learns how to use chopsticks during a 2015 AANHPI celebration. In Biloxi, Mississippi, a traditional Thai dessert (right) is served at a 2017 AANHPI month celebration that included karate and dance demonstrations.

Parade performers wearing traditional clothing hold paper umbrellas aloft in city street (© Michael Nagle/Xinhua/Getty Images)
(© Michael Nagle/Xinhua/Getty Images)

The city of New York held its first Asian American and Pacific Islander Cultural and Heritage Parade in 2022, displaying traditions and culture from countries including China, South Korea, India, Malaysia and Thailand. A second parade is planned for this year, as well as a concert of Asian-centric music May 20–21. New York has also held an annual Asian Pacific American Heritage festival since 1979.