Hmong New Year - Luang Prabang - December 2015

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Dec 24, 2015.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Hmong New Year usually occurs in December or January at the traditional end of the harvest season.

    The Hmong New Year celebration has both religious and cultural beliefs; & during the festival 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.

    At this time of the year most Hmong dress up in their best gear, especially the women & the most noticeable activity is the Hmong ball game, a courting ritual between young males & females.

    The ball game is called pov pob, with males & females lined up facing each other, tossing a ball back & forth.

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    It is a time to put on your best show; particularly for the girls to impress the men & many of their outfits are stunning.

    As luck we have it I just caught the last day of Hmong New Year in Luang Prabang. The girlfriend was in tow on her first trip overseas & was suitably impressed – over the top - with a culture & festival she really knew very little about.

    Some happy snaps from Luang Prabang on 20[sup]th[/sup] December 2015

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    more to come.
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A few more beautiful costumes

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    Confirmation of the massive party crowd celebrating

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    more to come
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Some history on the ball game witnessed at Hmong New Year...

    On the 1st day of the waxing moon of the first lunar month of the New Year, the parents of the family heat water for their children to bathe. The Hmong believe that this ritual washes away all old and unclean things. The children are then given a new set of clothes to wear. It is believed that from that moment onwards, they will receive only new things which are better than the old things because it is New Year and everything should be new. For young daughters who are still quite small (below the age of puberty), the mothers will sew a small, palm-sized cloth ball for the children to play amongst themselves. For the older daughters (above the age of puberty), they sew a larger cloth ball which the girls use for playing catch with the boys. As for the boys, they dress up as handsome as possible.

    The young men and women go to a large open area which has already been prepared, or these days, perhaps the school playground. Upon arrival, the young woman chooses a young man they like in particular, hand him the cloth ball and invite him to partner her in a game of catch. If the young man agrees, they walk together to the field. The young men go to one side while the young women go to another side. The turn and face each other and then start throwing the ball back and forth.

    Before they start throwing the ball, they agree on whether they will just throw it playfully or as a competition. If they agree that it is to be a competition, then they must follow these rules: if the girl is unable to catch the ball which the boy has thrown to her, she has to give him something that belongs to her to the boy. The boy will walk to the girl to collect his reward. If, on the other hand, the boy misses the ball thrown to him by the girl, then the boy has to pay the penalty and the girl will wander over to the boy to collect her reward. If the girl get something from the boy during the afternoon, she does not have to return it to him at the time. In the evening the boy will go to the girl's house and serenade the girl to get his things back. The same applies to the girl. She has to sing to the boy in order to get her things back. There has to be one song for each item. If they receive many items, then they have to sing many songs. Once all the items have been returned, the ritual is over. This custom is losing popularity and is not practised much these days, however.
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Some of the magnificent finery of the young men's costumes.

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    When is the Hmong New Year on?

    Always after the harvest - any time from November to January, depending on how the season goes.

    Harvesting of crops is done towards the end of the year. Once harvesting has been completed, the Hmong relax and celebrate their freedom from war, and the peace they have been able to enjoy. This celebration is regarded as the Hmong New Year Celebration. The Hmong use the Chinese system for determining the months. Each Hmong year has 12 months and the month which marks the end of harvest is considered the 12 month. It is during that month that Hmong New Year Celebrations are held.
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    Legend tells that the Hmong or Maew originated in China in the vicinity of Mongolia. The word "Hmong" is a version of the word "Mong" which is derived from Mongolia, the homeland and birth place of the Hmong. However, as a result of war, divisions occurred in the Chinese mainland and military power increased causing the Hmong to migrate southwards, first to the Yellow River, then to the Red River and later to the Mekong River area. The migration of the Hmong continued along the sides of the Mekong until they came to the area known as Suwannaphum in the year 1004 AD, almost 1,000 years ago. The Hmong took refuge in five countries - Thailand, Laos, Kampuchea, Myanmar and Vietnam. The largest Hmong population is to be found in Laos.

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    After safely fleeing the threat of war, the Hmong began to make their homes and establish themselves in the mountains and hills of the region supporting themselves through agriculture growing rice, corn, beans, vegetables, and in particular, opium, and raising livestock such as horses, oxen, swine and poultry.

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015
     
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    These celebrations mark the first day of the New Year. The first day of celebrations, which coincides with the last day of the old year, starts with the slaughtering of a pig and a chicken which are given as offerings to the ancestors. The flesh of these animals is used to feed relatives during the celebrations. Rituals conducted during the celebration are as follows. Each month has 30 days. Celebrations start on the 30th day of the month. Each household slaughters a full grown pig commemorate the effort they have put in to their farming over the past year. The first day of the New Year is a day of rest. Once the pig has been slaughtered it is cooked and relatives and friends are invited to take part in a feast. Each household slaughter 1-2 pigs. If it is a small family, only one pig will be slaughtered. If it is a larger family, however, 2-3 pigs will be slaughtered. The number of pigs slaughtered depends on the size of the family.

    Once the pig has been slaughtered and cooked, friends and relatives are invited to come and eat. After they have finished eating, they go and eat in the other houses in the village until all the houses have been visited. Alcohol is also consumed during the feasting. The atmosphere is informal and friendly.

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    During the afternoon and evening, chickens and eggs are prepared for a propitiation (exorcism) ceremony and the house is cleaned. The number of chickens and eggs used in this ceremony must correspond with the number of family members from babies to elders. if a household has 10 members, for example, then 10 chickens and 10 eggs must be used. They are divided into male and female. if there are 5 female members, then they must use 5 roosters while 5 male members must use 5 hens. The eggs are then boiled until they are hard. The whole chickens and the boiled eggs are then put into a container with a spoonful of boiled rice and the propitiation ceremony is repeated. After completion of the ceremony, the head of the family takes one of the roosters and suspends it from the upper section of the house wall as an offering to the ancestral spirits and the guardian spirits of the house. The chickens are then cut into pieces and eaten which marks the end of the ceremony.

    The ball game begins on the next day.

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015
     
  10. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    Great pictures from the lovely Hmong (and Karen) tribes and thank you for the interesting write-up. Luang Prabang seems a nice place to celebrate all kind of New Years. I am eagerly waiting for a venue around Chiangmai :)
     
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Some Wikepedia history on the Hmong in Laos..

    The Hmong history in Laos is nearly as ancient as in Vietnam.

    After decades of distant relations with the Lao kingdoms, closer relations between the French military and some Hmong on the Xieng Khouang plateau were set up after World War II.

    There is rivalry between members of the Lo and Ly clans developed into open enmity, also affecting those connected with them by kinship. Clan leaders took opposite sides and as a consequence, several thousand Hmong participated in the fighting against the Pathet Lao Communists, while perhaps as many were enrolled in the People's Liberation Army.

    As in Vietnam, numerous Hmong in Laos also genuinely tried to avoid getting involved in the conflict in spite of the extremely difficult material conditions under which they lived during wartime.

    After the 1975 Communist victory, thousands of Hmong from Laos had to seek refuge abroad. Approximately 30 percent of the Hmong left, although the only concrete figure we have is that of 116,000 Hmong from Laos and Vietnam together seeking refuge in Thailand up to 1990.

    In 2005, the Hmong in Laos numbered 460,000.

    There are 4 types of Hmong in Laos

    Black Hmong

    Striped Hmong

    White Hmong

    Green Hmong

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015
     
  12. David Unkovich

    David Unkovich Active Member

    A few final pics highlighting the different costumes & head gear

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] A proud older Hmong lady at Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] A Hmong family at Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    [​IMG] Time to go home...Hmong New Year Luang Prabang December 2015

    A fantastic show & evidence that the Hmong are very proud of their culture & have a strong belief in their society.
     

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