When we visited the Arts and Ethnology Museum we were told that the Hmong New Year celebrations would start on December 20 and were given vague directions. On the 20th we rode our bikes up and down trails and tracks in the vicinity we were shown on the map – it was pretty interesting, but we didn’t find anything that would resemble a New Year celebration.
Today (21st) we rode our bikes in another direction and through some little villages – found some silk weaving workshops and paper making workshops – and on our way back to the hotel on the main road, some motor bikes passed us with people dressed in traditional costumes. Ahah! we pedaled frantically to follow them and FOUND the site of the Hmong New Year celebrations, which is essentially like a huge fairground with simple games, lots of food, lots of people and very dusty! They were arriving in droves on motor bikes, in tuk-tuks, cars, pick up trucks and on foot!
The Hmong New Year celebration is a cultural celebration that takes place annually, generally at the end of harvest and is also a celebration of thanksgiving; Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy traditional foods, dance music, and other entertainment.
The Hmong ball tossing game is a common activity for young people. 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. 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 to the opposite player. I saw mostly girls tossing to girls, but it was in the morning and I suspect the young men show up later in the day.