Ramblings

The problem with Hmong New Years

It’s Hmong New Year season.  I call it a “season” because Hmong New Year starts in mid-October to the first week of January.  I guess, you can say that it’s like the county fairs where every county has its own fair.  Every county (provided that the Hmong community has money) hosts a new year.

I wonder why we all just can’t have one new year.  It’s ridiculous to have several new years through the year.

Sacramento used to only celebrate once during the year.  Now they celebrate  it twice.  Rumors has it that the Hmong community leaders had a big argument about money and split up.  So, now Sacramento county has two new years (celebrated at Cal Expo and the Gibson Ranch), a week apart from each other.

I don’t understand why people just can’t compromise.  It makes us Hmong people look bad.  Hmoob tsis txawj hlub Hmoob kiag li.

A non-Hmong friend of mine asked me why we have more than one new year.  I couldn’t answer her.  My reply was, “Maybe it’s because we want to visit each other’s new years?”  But what’s the point when all the new years are basically the same?

6 thoughts on “The problem with Hmong New Years

  1. I get asked this a lot by both Hmong and non-Hmong people alike. Traditionally, new year celebrations are held following the end of the harvest season, which according to the Hmong calendar is the end of a one-year cycle. Since the late 1970’s Hmong new year celebrations have taken on a whole new meaning. Especially in the U.S. where the Hmong diaspora is spread out over a vast area.

    In the U.S., Hmong new year celebrations are held at various times, usually towards the end of the year– this I believe is to accommodate school schedules and 40-hour work weeks. And having more than one allows for many opportunities to rekindle old friendships and family ties as well as make new ones.

    It is only natural to think that there should be just one Hmong new year celebration, however, it’s easier said than done. You have to ask yourself, “where do we hold this one single Hmong new year?” and “when will this celebration take place?” If you take into consideration the Hmong/Miao populations– China would be the most likeliest of places to hold such a celebration, being that China is home to 10 million Hmong/Miao people. Second runner up would be Vietnam, which is home to 1 million Hmong people.

    No matter how you look at it, it’s just not feasible to have just one new year celebration. Although I must admit, it would be nice. But on the other hand, how many of us have the time and money to go to China to celebrate Hmong new years there? And how many Hmong/Miao people in China would have the time and resources to come to America to celebrate new years here?

    1. Thank you for your comment. I should’ve been more clear when I said, “one new year,” I actually meant one set of dates for the new year, like December 30th to Jan 1st, or something. It’ll be nice to just celebrate new year once a year, instead of having different dates from the beginning of fall to the middle of winter.

  2. Hello. I came across your blog and I found it interesting that you brought up this topic. However, what concerns me more is not having a set date that the Hmong New Year should be celebrated on but the meanings behind the celebration. It is for this reason that I no longer attend Hmong New Year celebrations. Majority of the attendants do not even wear traditional Hmong clothing anymore, nor even speak Hmong.

    1. You do have a point. The meaning of Hmong New Year has changed over the years. Have you noticed that as the years go by, the number of booths increase? It’s no longer about the tradition of coming together, but of selling as much merchandise as possible. And I think that is one of the reasons why our new year is spread out from October to the beginning of January. It’s really sad.

  3. I heard this “debate” on the Hmong radio in the California Central Valley a year ago. There are a lot of factor pertaining to the different dates of Hmong New Year. It does somehow make the Hmong people seem ridiculous for celebrating “New Year” so many times. However, as you guys have stated, the dates are based on the convenience toward work and school. As of for set date, we didn’t have that back in the days anyway, not that I know of. I think back in the days, even today in Laos and Thailand, New Year celebration is celebrated during various dates. Correct me if I am wrong.

    However, New Year celebration in America has changed due to the fact that people have changed therefore tradition must accommodate these changes. We want to be able to celebrate a tradition within our community, and then with the rest of the world (during the “International” Hmong New Year in Fresno).

    I don’t disagree with you, it is kind of a “WTF” moment to some people. But I love celebrating New Year during various dates. It allow people to mingle with their neighbors and then travel to mingle with their love ones who cannot attend the same event with them in their hometown.

  4. it goes back in the days… in laos each village or nearby villages get together to throw a new year so that other villages can come by their village to mingle blah blah blah. why not juat one big one… hm… i dont have an answer but i guess it is just nice to mingle with other outside their village. so they kept the idea of it here but people got greedy so that is why there are two in sacramento and i think there are two ib fresno as well.

Comments are closed.