Hmong New Year Celebration in North Carolina

The Hmong New Year celebration is a cultural tradition that takes place annually, in North Carolina, it’s usually held the week before and the week of Thanksgiving, traditionally it is held at the end of the harvest season when all work is done.  This is my first time attending a Hmong New Year, second for Bo and Lee, I was in Thailand last year and Bo went with his mom and Lee.

During the Hmong New Year celebration, the Hmong ball tossing game pov pob is a common activity for adolescents, but I noticed that older couples also play this game as well. 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. 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 (hais kwv txhiaj) to the opposite player. (Source and to read more about the Hmong New Year)

I’m fascinated with so many people, both young and old dressing in a traditional clothing at the festival.

There were many beautiful Hmong traditional outfits for sale, and Lee had her eye on them, but a bit pricey for me.

Lee was not happy when I told her it was too small.

I’m not familiar with the Hmong outfit, sort of made a fool of myself and picked out one for a male, she said it was for ‘Pou Sai’ (a male in Lao language), I told her that I wanted one for ‘Pou Ying’ (a female).  She handed me this piece, finally Lee was happy with what she saw, my second sister tried it on for her to see.  I had to dig deep into my pocket, $50 for this small piece.

She definitely needs the whole outfit, I think it costs almost $300 for a complete outfit, maybe I’ll try to make one for her next year.

Beautiful embroidery piece.

Blankets that tell stories.

I was looking for a Hmong bag, but these are not my style so I didn’t buy any.

The Entertainment area was packed, I had to squeeze my way in just to take this picture.

Food vendors were busy, this one grilling, as you can see for many people.

The longan fruits were fresh, for $5 per pound I could only afford 2 pounds.

33 thoughts on “Hmong New Year Celebration in North Carolina

    • eerenoon, I think the outfits look slightly different from the tribes in Thailand, and also these might not be the normal working clothing attire that tourists saw when they visited the hill tribes.

      • Fresno Californa has the biggest Hmong New Year Celebration here in the United States which consist of 7 days of celebrations during the Christmas weekend and MN has the second biggest celebration during the Thanksgiving weekend and Sacramento California has the third biggest New Year Celebration during the Thanksgiving weekend. Although the NC New Year is a bit small in comparison, it had all the traditional value and etc. It’s worth going to these events whenever you have time during the season!! I too cannot wait til next year!

    • isathreadsoflife, it’s a beautiful tradition to witness. I admire their unity that many of us that migrated to the US are lacking these days, and their traditional clothing are absolutely beautiful, I feel like it should be hung at a museum somewhere. :)

  1. Nye,
    That’s beautiful outfits I liked the plain black dress with the tradition hand stiches. I didn’t think the caroline’s have so many hmong. I thought they mostly are in Minisota and California. These clothes are local hand craft? or wasn’t imported from Laos?
    I like to get a hmong hat for my nephew the one I bought from Laos was too small for “pra ya noo noi”, his mom (my sister) was raise by a hmong lady, so sometime we call her son little hmong.
    You are so lucky :)

    • salalao, I think we’re ranking 5th State for Hmong, and 6th for Lao living in the US. The piece of Land that you’re seeing here belongs to the Hmong community and I believed it is the future home of the Hmong Culture center.

      As for the traditional clothing, the one that Lee got is made from Thailand, so I believed many pieces that you see here are made in Thailand. I like the Hmong bags from Laos and was hoping to find some here but no luck, I would definitely buy the ethnic clothing and bags when I visit Laos again. It’s nice to have the festival close to home, next time we’d visit the one at the playground, the place is nicer since they’ve buildings and everything, they had it there last weekend.

  2. Nye – Awesome pictures and story. Like anything else, you probably can get about 10 outfits for the price you would normally pay in the U.S.

    Fresno, CA and Twin Cities, MN are the two large number of Hmongs population. I’ve been to Hmong New Year celebration once about 15 years ago in Fresno.

    • Hi seeharhed, thanks, it’s a lot cheaper in Laos, but I didn’t have a lot of spending money when I visited Laos the last time, I picked up the quilt several times but only to put it back down, I wish I had bought it then. I would like to visit the one in Fresno, I bet it’s real nice, but also so far away.

  3. Thanks for sharing these pictures. I have never been to the NC’s new year before, that’s so cool. So many people in Hmong clothes unlike over here only few people are in Hmong clothes :( mostly only me and my friends cuz we are getting old and want to wear them as much as we can. Did you try any of the foods?

    • pnly, you’re welcome and thanks for stopping by. They had the Hmong, Lao and Thai food vendors there, but we ate at my dad’s house before we went, and I only bought the Longan fruits.

      It’s nice to see so many in Hmong clothing, even older couples dressing in traditional outfits tossing balls in the field, this part I only saw in video before so it’s kind of nice to see it in person.

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  6. Hey Nye, I was also there both the second and third day of the event although I didn’t take any pictures nor did I saw you! I was mostly at the entertainment area watching the dance competition. Did you try their food? SO did you ended up getting Lee an outfit? Our traditional clothes are now changing and are not as traditonal as it used to be, I am not a big fan of the “modern” clothes, but then I am learning to like few of them. I was dressed up for the first 2 hours of the event then I had to change because it was getting too windy and cold for me, and the heels were not doing too well with the rocks.

    • mozemoua, I wonder if you’d recognize me. :) I saw a lady that I thought was you, but didn’t dare ask, so I took a picture of her back, the one in the purple, I wonder if it’s you.

      Lee got the thing that go around your waist, I’m not sure what it’s called, but she wanted the whole outfit and I didn’t have enough money for it. I thought about making a simple one for her next year. I like the old traditional one of the Black Hmong, the fabric seems more sturdy than the newer one, but I’m sure it’s hard to find now. It was lots of fun, I’m looking forward to next year, and maybe we’ll meet up then. :)

      • Nye, that was me!!!! You should had stopped me and say HI! I would had loved to meet you! I guess there is always next year! I am surprised you actually recognized me! The girl to my right is my little cousin and the lady in front of us is my aunt, I am very short so we were struggling to watch whats on stage, but good thing we were able to get close enough to see the performance after a while of struggling. I was dressed up the first two hours I was there, but I had to change, my feet started to hurt from all the rocks and it was getting to windy for me. I think it’s much cheaper to make your own outfit, but then again it takes up a lot of time.

        • Mozemoua, when I first saw you, I instantly thought it was you, although you look different from your photos, very petite and I kept thinking you should be taller. Then I kept thinking, can’t be you since you didn’t have your camera, lol, I guess I was expecting to see you with one. Yes, there is always a next year, I‘ll get in touch with you before the Hmong New Year. :)

          • Nye, I should had mentioned that I am very short! ahaha. It’s a pity I am the 2nd oldest yet I am the shortest. I know I should had carried my camera, it felt weird not having my camera on hand when it’s always with me. I’ll be sure to bring it next year!!! Yes do get in touch with me so this wont happen again for next year! I hate to mention it, but they year is going to fly by just as fast!!

              • Nye, LOL and in person I am very short! LOL shortest in the family and second oldest!! sad but true! LOL It’ll take time before I can come close to being a pro. I am thinking about taking a short break from school so I can have some time for myself! It’s very stressful always being so busy working or at school. But we shall see. Thanks for the kind comment though!

                • mozemoua, turning pro can be very stressful also, there is a lot of expectations and deadline to meet, but that’s part of life these days. Taking some ‘me’ time off might be a good for your sanity. :)

  7. My first time posting a comment in your blog, have been a quite viewer.
    I really like your photograph, it catches such great moment and memories.
    It’s so sweet how your daughter liked the Hmong outfit, it is expensive for such a small piece.
    I think it depends on the person who sew it, but here in MN the prices are pretty good.
    The outfit your daughter wanted it’s only about $30 here and it comes in complete set. :D

    • Hi Lala, thanks for your kind words, there is so much beauty in human expressions that most of us take for granted and photography is able to capture that happy memories, the momentum of life that we can share over the internet, and I’m glad that you like the photos. :)

      The outfit that she looked at was $80, I didn’t even dare ask about the adult outfit, one man that we talked to said his wife’s outfit was $300. I have a simple pattern of a Hmong top that I can sew for Lee and myself for next year, it’d be a fun project for us to do together. :)

  8. Hi Nye,
    I didn’t realize it’s Hmong new year in December. There is so much color and everyone looks like they’re having a great time. :)

    It’s great that you can expose Lee to many different cultures. If all of us took the time to learn about other cultures and understand each other more, there would be more peace in the world.

    Thanks for sharing the photos. The longons look nice and fresh. Do you think they are from Florida? I prefer these kind of fruit over sweets any time!

    • Cambree, most of the Longan fruits sold here are from Florida, I told my sister that it was as good as the ones that I ate in Laos, I absolutely love this fruit.

      Lee knew a little bit about the Hmong culture, she had a Hmong boy in her class last year. She is fascinated with different cultural clothes, I think it started out with Chinese, then anything that she sees after that. I think reading books about different cultures has also helped her to understand people better.

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