HMONG NEW YEARS FESTIVAL

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HMONG FESTIVALS

THE NEW YEAR

One Festive Holiday the Hmong culture celebrates is the Hmong New Year celebration is a cultural tradition that takes place annually in select areas where large Hmong communities exist and in a modified form where smaller communities come together. During the New Year’s celebration, Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy Hmong traditional foods, dance, music, bull fights, and other forms of entertainment. 

Hmong New Year celebrations have Hmong ethnic traditions and culture, and may also serve to educate those who have interest in Hmong tradition. Hmong New Year celebrations frequently occur in November and December (traditionally at the end of the harvest season when all work is done), serving as a Thanksgiving holiday for the Hmong people.

Historically, the Hmong New Year celebration was created to give thanks to ancestors and spirits as well as to welcome in a new beginning. 

Traditionally, the celebration lasts for ten days, has been shortened in America due to the difference between the traditional Hmong farming schedule and that of the American 40-hr work week schedule. It has also served the double purpose of a convenient meeting place and time for the Hmong leadership, from the days of China even until now.

THE MOST COMMON QUESTION - What is the instrument on the left side of the right photo.   It is a national treasure of the Hmong people. 
Some people think the Qeej is the Hmong equivalent of the Scottish bagpipes, minus the bags.  Bagpipes were to replace the trumpet in the military and used as a form of communication.  
Like the pipes, the Qeej or Lusheng is a reed instrument, designed so the musician can make sounds sucking in or blowing out.  And...

Its music is like an extension of Hmong language. Each note represents a word. To Hmong people, the sounds of the Qeej are like speech. "People who are familiar with Qeej, or they know how to play it, they know what the music is saying because it says certain words. So that’s how we know what the qeej is saying."  Qeej players are storytellers, performing centuries-old ceremonial songs. They often dance while they play. 

During the Hmong New Year celebration, the Hmong ball tossing game pov pob”  is a common activity for adolescents. Boys and girls form two separate lines in pairs that are directly facing one another. Girls can ball toss with other girls or boys, but boys cannot ball toss with other boys. 

It is also taboo to toss the ball to someone of the same clan and date the same clan. The pairs toss a cloth ball back and forth, until one member drops the ball. If a player drops or misses the ball, an ornament or item is given to the opposite player in the pair. Ornaments are recovered by singing love songs  to the opposite player, but in recent times, in such areas as China, the young lovers have been seen to carry tape players to play their favorite love songs for one another.

The Hmong New Year celebration—specifically based on both religious and cultural beliefs—is an “in-house” ritual that takes place annually in every Hmong household. The celebration is to acknowledge the completion of the rice-harvesting season—thus, the beginning of a new year—so that a new life can begin as the cycle of life continues. 

During this celebration, every "wandering" soul of every family member is called back to unite with the family again and the young will honor the old or the in-laws—a ritual of asking for blessings from elders of the house and clan as well as the in-laws of other clans.

Also, during the Hmong New Year celebration, house spirits as well as the spirit of wealth  are honored. In addition, if a shaman is in the house, the healing spirits of She-Yee are also honored and released to wander the land until they are called back right after new year. Hmong New Year lasts only for 3 days—with 10 dishes of food each day, for a total of 30 dishes—thus the Hmong saying “Eat 30.” 

 All these things take place for only 3 days. After all these things are done, then the “outside” fun begins, which has nothing to do with Hmong New Year. In the United States, people refer to the “outside” event as “New year”—but, this is a misconception. Hmong New Year occurs in-house, and whatever occurs outside after the “new year” is called “Tsa Hauv Toj”—meaning “raising the mountain.” This is the tradition where Hmong toss balls and sing “kwv txhiaj.”

During the Tsa Hauv Toj celebration, Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy Hmong traditional foods, dance, music, bull fights, and other forms of entertainment.  Hmong New Year celebrations preserve Hmong ethnic traditions and culture, and may also serve to educate those who are interested in Hmong tradition. 

Hmong New Year celebrations occurred anytime within or close to the end of the harvesting period give or take a few days. However, the Tsa Hauv Toj event is based on lunar calendar, typically in November and December.  Another Hmong Festival that this culture celebrates is, Independence Day. The Hmong celebrate Independence Day to celebrate the anniversary their freedom.

Many tribes are distinguished by the color and details of their clothing. Black Hmong wear deep indigo dyed hemp clothing that includes a jacket with embroidered sleeves, sash, apron and leg wraps. The Flower Hmong are known for very brightly colored embroidered traditional costume with beaded fringe.

http://www.hmongstudiesjournal.org

*07-2018 aljacobsladder.com