Hmong New Year: The Bane of My Adolescence

Oroville Hmong New Year Festival that happened last weekend (first weekend of October) marked the start of the Hmong New Year celebrations. Some cultures celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival), but the Hmong communities start our new year celebrations. Besides the music, performances, food, merchandise booths, and exhibits, the Hmong new year  festivals can be a…

Solar Eclipse: Evil Spirit Devouring the Sun

Tomorrow an evil spirit will devour the sun and darkness will envelope North America before noon my time. Hmong folks historically pull out their drums--pounding away--to scare the spirit. "Dab noj hnub," is the phrase for "solar eclipse." It literally means "evil spirit devouring the sun." Before science explained this natural phenomenon, a solar eclipse…

Hmong: Where Is Home?

"Where are you from?" she asked me with great interest when I told her I am Hmong. "It depends on what you're asking." "What do you mean?" "Well, if you're asking where I live, I'm from the US. If you're asking where I was born, that's Thailand. If you ask where my parents came from,…

Nkauj Hnub thiab Nraug Hli

I found this beautiful paj huam (Hmong poem) that Nujtxeeg posted on the Hmongza forum, telling the story of Nkauj Hnub (Maiden of the Sun) and Nraug Hli (Man of the Moon). This story describes the tragic love story of Nkauj Hnub and Nraug Hli, who will forever yearn for each other's love and are only allowed…

Hmong Postpartum Care

A woman's body goes through so many changes during pregnancy and trauma during childbirth that postpartum care for a Hmong woman is very important---more important than prenatal care.  Many Hmong women take postpartum care very seriously. A woman nyob nruab hlis (stays within the month) after childbirth for 30 days, hence the name.  And this…

Bride Price vs Dowry

I've seen and heard many Hmong people use bride price and dowry interchangeably, however their meanings are very different.  Merriam Webster defines bride price as "a payment given by or in behalf of a prospective husband to the bride's family...."  So, basically, it is money or goods that the groom gives to the bride's family for…

Traditional Hmong weddings and marriages

The Hmong consists of 18 last (sur) names, making up 18 official clans.  It is taboo to marry someone from the same clan.  For instance, someone with the Yang last name cannot marry another Yang.  In some families, it is also taboo to marry someone with the same clan name as your mother's maiden name.…

Hmong superstitions/taboos (part 2)

You can read part 1 here: Hmong superstitions. Yangs can’t eat chicken hearts. A long time ago, the Yang clan was having a party.  They killed cows, pigs, and chickens to celebrate.  They left a young man who was deaf and mute to tend the pot of oil where the chickens were frying in.  Later,…

Worshiping demons

The Hmong religion is Shamanism.  Shamanism is the practice of using a shaman to communicate between the human and spirit world.  It is a sub-religion of Animism.  Animism is the belief that all living things (earth, sky, plants, animals, humans, etc) have souls.  A shaman is someone who has the gift to communicate with the…

Hmong New Year (Noj Peb Caug)

As one of my previous blogs stated, it is Hmong New Year.  And I want to clear up some misconceptions of Hmong New Year. My blog "Hmong Mating Season" was a joke. The tradition of Hmong New Year has changed its form over the past decades in America that it has become a "season." That…