Hmong people originally believed to be from the Yangtze River basin area situated in southern China, now inhabit various parts of the world. Miao is the name by which Hmong people are referred to in their country of origin, China.
They have occupied China for the past 2000 years. This was before they were forced to move away to escape the King Dynasty.
- HMONG HERITAGE & HMONG NEW YEAR
Hmong New Year is deeply rooted in the Hmong heritage, as it basically celebrates the end of the season of harvest in Laos. The date usually falls between the month of November and December of the Gregorian calendar. The Hmong people work hard for a year and then put away their farm tools at the end of the year. The people put on their best clothes to celebrate the good harvest and end of another year. Each and every clan holds their own ceremonial traditions, but the village celebrates it as a whole.
Finding Hmong people is an extremely difficult task and their verbal customs are held dear by the people. The heritage and the customs of the Hmong people have been passed down the ages to the present generation. The customs might have become varied, but the core beliefs of the Hmong people remain the same. Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and China are some of the countries where the Hmong people still have stayed back. These people have maintained their own language and customs. Laos still has 18 Hmong clans.
- Arrival of New Year
With the arrival of the New Year, women of the Hmong community bring fresh water at the stroke of midnight. Other traditions include bull fights. Hmong people dress up in their traditional outfits, which are quite colorful and include beads as well as hats. This is the traditional dress for women, while the men dress up in white collared formal costumes.
Food, drinks, dance and other festivities define this occasion. Numerous sports activities like soccer and volleyball are organized on this day. New Year Celebrations involve the culture of the Hmong people. It also includes food being cooked by the female members of the community.
- BASIS OF HMONG NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS
Hmong New Year celebrations are not only based on cultural heritage, but religious beliefs as well. The festivities take place annually on the occasion of the New Year. It is based on the end of the season of rice harvesting. At the end of the rice harvesting season, the New Year marks the beginning of the new cycle of life. The “wandering” souls of family members are called back on this day to reunite with their family. Young honor the old or their in-laws, with a ritual, where they ask for the blessings of the elders. Hmong New Year lasts for all of three days and ten dishes of food are prepared on each day. So, a total of thirty dishes are prepared during this period. This is the reason Hmong people say “eat 30”.
- CUSTOMS & FESTIVITIES OF HMONG NEW YEAR
The social events can last up to a month, because each village takes turns at hosting the New Year. Here are some rituals that the people of Hmong clans observe on the occasion of New Year and the 3 days of celebration that are a part of it:
- Paj Ntaub is a hand-crafted and embroidery dress that is worn by the Hmong people and they sing traditional songs with complex lyrics. The song is called Kwv Txhiaj.
- Pov Pob is the Hmong ball tossing game, which is a popular event among adolescents. Two separate lines are formed in pairs by girls and boys. They face each other directly. Girls may toss the ball to a boy or girl, but the boys can toss the ball to the girls only. Another rule of the ball toss is that the ball can be tossed only to another member of the same clan. The ball tossing continues till someone drops the ball. When a player misses to catch, the opponent in the pair is gifted an ornament.
- Hu Plig is the custom where the souls of departed family members are called upon to unite with their family.
- Txi Xwm Kab is the custom involving a ritual with offerings for the God of Wealth.
- Neeb Foob Yeem/Neeb Tso Qhua is a Shamanistic Ritual. It involves releasing Curing spirits of She-Yee for “vacationing”. This can happen only if the household has a shaman in their house.
- Noj peb caug is also known as Eat 30 and constitutes of having the most important and primary meal of the year.
- Pe Tsiab is the custom, where the younger people of the clan ask for blessings from their elders. It starts early in the morning and can include parents, dead ancestors, uncles and even in-laws.
- Ntxuav Kauv Laug is also known as “Cleaning the Body”. It is a ritual involving the cleansing of the body.
- Ntuag Qhauv is a custom that is believed to reduce issues and problems like temper, loneliness, along with all the problems that have happened in the household.
- Tog Neej Tsa Tuaj Noj Tsiab involves inviting or requesting special guests like your in-laws to come and join you on the occasion of “eat Tsiab”.
- Xa Noob Ncoos/Tsoog Laug is like a thanksgiving event in which in-laws and parents are honored.
- Tam Noob Ncoos is a feast of thank you that is organized by in-laws and parents.
- Tso Plig is a ritual to help release the spirit of departed members of the family.
- Noj Tsiab is also referred to as Eat Tsiab, which is a larger version of “eat 30”.
All of these events take place over the three days of Hmong New Year. Over the years the customs may have changed a bit, but the true customs, traditions and beliefs remain the same.