Tossing in the Hmong New Year


Mrs. Chang

Mrs. Chang in traditional Hmong clothing

Evanie Adame, Reporter

The concept of holiday traditions varies for many cultures. In the U.S., Christmas is the most widely known and celebrated holiday. Yet, there are many cultures that use this time of year to celebrate their own holiday heritage. One such tradition is the Hmong New Year.
While the Hmong didn’t necessarily have their own version of Christmas, they instead have a celebration of gratitude and festivities. Before the Hmong New Year was what it is today, this celebration was a time to give thanks to their ancestors and for the completion of the year’s harvest. This was especially relevant as the Hmong lived in the countryside of South-East Asia. The gathering was also a way for people to be brought together. It allowed the Hmong in the past to find husbands and wives.
Now the celebration differs from what it was back then. It’s now about welcoming in the new year and less about Shamanism (connected to giving thanks to the ancestors and spirits) as many Hmong have converted to Christianity.
“My mom loved this time of the year because it was the only reason in America to dress in our Hmong clothes.” shared Mrs. Chang an English and AVID teacher at SHS, reminiscing about the celebrations. “We would wake up early and my mother would make sure that we were dressed correctly as the Hmong garments are worn in complex layers.”
Brightly-colored, hand-woven, decorated garments are worn, Hmong food is served, and vendors from far and wide come to sell their items. The food ranges from pho to barbeque and the vendors’ variety extends from Hmong clothes to K-pop dramas (TV series made in South Korea).
“I like the food and just meeting people, I like becoming friends with them.” freshman Kachelle Xiong stated, sharing her own experiences with the Hmong New Year.
However, the tradition of ball tossing is a constant within the Hmong New Year. It is used as a courting system in order to find a match. Women and men would pair up and while they tossed the ball they would be able to talk and get to know each other. After it’s done, they get to decide whether or not to move forward with each other.
These celebrations never have a specific date and depending on the area there is a multitude of big and small events. Hmong elders and organization leaders conferred and announced the decided-upon dates to avoid any conflicts. These celebrations can start from November and go on until January for an unspecified amount of days.
Fresno has its own Hmong New Year celebration at the end of December and this year it will last for four days.