Hmong Culture

Hmong mating season!

It’s that time of the year!  It is Hmong Mating Season!  Don’t know what it is?  Well, stay tune and you’ll find out.

The Hmong are found all over the world, from the US to Canada, SE Asia to China, Australia, France, and Argentina.  Back in the old country, Hmong Mating Season starts after the harvest.  This is a time of rest after a whole year of working hard in the rice fields.  And because Hmong people are so busy during the year that they don’t have time to find a mate until after the harvest.

Woman harvesting rice.

Hmong Mating Season in California starts in October and ends on the first of January.  This is a time when all the single Hmong males and females flock to the mating grounds to seek their mate.  Single young girls and guys.  Runaway brides and grooms.  Divorcees.  Widows and widowers.  Even married people (mainly males) who thrive on the excitement of extramarital affairs!

These single Hmong males and females come in a display of colorful costumes.  It really is a remarkable sight!  They dress in their best to impress potential mates.  Females dress in an array of bright pinks, greens, reds, oranges, whites, and blacks.  Some wearing ornaments on their heads to go along with their bright colorful clothing.  Males dress in clothes less vibrant than the females, but still as appealing.

The females perform a ritual to show the males that they are open for mating.  This ritual is called ball tossing.  Two or three females will gather, stand about 4-5 feet away from each other and toss a ball back and forth.  Back in the old country, they use a ball made out of cloth.  Here in the US, the ball tossing ritual is performed with a tennis ball.

To show his interest in a female, a male Hmong will walk up to the female and ask her permission to toss ball with her.  If she likes the male, she’ll accept his request.  Most of the time, because the female Hmong feels she has no choice in the matter, she’ll passively say yes when she really wants to say no.  If she has friends, the male will toss ball with her friends too.

This ball tossing ritual dates back to the early Hmong times.  The ball represents the relationship of a couple.  Questions are asked and answered back and for (hence the ball goes back and forth).  During this time, the male and female get to know each other.   The farther they are from the each other, the less they talk unless they want to yell at each other.  Some people like to do the ritual two feet away from each other, so they can actually get to know the person across from them.

Men flock around this woman to get to know her more and to get contact info.

While the male is busy with the female Hmong, there may be other interested males standing by.   Instead of joining in on the ball tossing ritual, they will simply surround her and carry out what is called the “Ear Whisper.”  In this Ear Whisper, they whisper soft sweet nothings in her ears, such as “Koj niam thiab koj txiv noj dab tsi cas yug tau koj zoo nkauj ntxim hlub ntxim nyiam ua luaj li os me nkauj Hmoob es (What did your parents eat because they gave birth to a girl so adorable and beautiful like you, Miss Hmong)?”  She’ll giggle because it’s the biggest form of compliment anyone can give her and the female Hmong usually gets distracted from the male tossing ball with her.

If wearing colorful clothing and tossing ball does not attract potential mates, the females use their mating call. This mating call is called Kwv Txhiaj.  Kwv Txhiaj is genre of traditional Hmong chanting folk songs.   The kwv txhiaj sung mostly at the mating grounds are songs of mating, courtship, and relationships.

For the Hmong who come to the mating grounds with their mate, instead of tossing balls the traditional way, they may participate in a ball tossing game similar to the game of Strip Poker.  [Oh yes!]  The male and female stand 5-6 feet or farther from each other and toss the ball as fast and hard as they can.  If the person on the other end cannot catch it, that person has to give an article of clothing or piece of jewelry to the person who threw the ball.  All possessions are returned at the end of the game, of course.

Not all Hmong single people who are searching for a mate will find one at the mating grounds during the Hmong Mating Season.  Those who don’t have such luck will only try again the next year.

Interesting, isn’t it?  I hope you guys like it.

But on a more serious note, there is no such thing as Hmong Mating Season.  No such thing.   If you’re Hmong, you probably understood where I was going with this blog.  For those of you who don’t know, I’ll explain.

It is actually the time of the year when Hmong people celebrate their new years.  [Yay!]  From October to January 1, counties and cities across California will celebrate Hmong New Year.   Chico and Oroville Hmong New Year takes place in October.  They have already passed.  I know that Sacramento and Stockton celebrate theirs in November.  Merced and Fresno, in December.  And all other cities’ celebrations are spread in between.

One major aspect of Hmong New Year is courtship and the adolescents and young adults look forward to this.  You dress in your new year best, toss ball, sing kwv txhiaj (if you know how to), get to know strangers of the opposite sex, which then could lead to a relationship.   If you have strict parents who won’t allow you to date, this may be the only time that they allow you to kind of date while at the Hmong New Year.  And whatever happens from then happens, I guess.  My mom was one of those strict parents.  I could talk to guys at the New Year, but I wasn’t allowed to at home.

If you’re wondering, there is more to Hmong New Year than just courtship.  There are beauty pageants, dance and singing competitions, performances by local Hmong bands and artists, traditional Hmong dance performed by youth groups, food, booths that sell Hmong clothes, music, and movies, concerts, and a lot more.   Oh, and you can’t forget gangsters who disrupt Hmong New Year by fighting each other.  So, if you hear about a Hmong New Year being celebrated in your area, go and join them.  You don’t have to be Hmong to go to Hmong New Year, although you may need cash for parking, admission, food, and whatever else you may want to buy.   And maybe you’ll learn something about the Hmong culture while you’re there.

Have fun and please stay safe at whatever Hmong New Year you’re planning on going to!

8 thoughts on “Hmong mating season!

  1. I so miss Hmong New Year! I’m originally from Stockton and loved the display of color, artistry and FOOD at the New Year celebrations. I’m on the East coast now and, no lie, have yet to see a Hmong in the last 9 years. And yes — I know the difference between my different Asian groups.

    Thanks for bringing back such good memories.

  2. Hello – very good article. Thanks.

    I wanted to comment on the new year aspects. Most what you have said is true. Just a clarification on the the New Year (noj 30). I am shameful that in this country Hmong leaders can’t see what they are actually doing and the ignorant are promoting it. The “after harvesting” is a small piece of the larger picture, celebration of siv yig, “noj 30”. Also, it is wrong to state that Hmong celebrates new year from October to January. These are new ideas that is out of line with Hmong New Year – perhaps it’s just profits for the organizers. Hmong New Year really begin from onset of December (11 hli hlis Hmoob) and ends at early January (12 hli hlis Hmoob).

    1. I agree with you that it is wrong to state that Hmong people celebrate new year from October to January. If you didn’t notice, there is a slight sarcastic and satirical tone in this blog post. Instead of just celebrating it for 30 days (as defined by its name “Peb Caug”), Hmong New Year has changed its form over the decades into a “season” of festivities that start in October to the beginning of January.

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