Hmong New Year in Laos

Updated: Jul 23

In Laos, we celebrate 5 new-year eves: Lao, Hmong, Theung, Christian and Chinese. Laotians are not going to deprive themselves of partying! We went to the Hmong New Year in Luang Prabang, what a show !


How is the Hmong New year organized in Laos ?


During December, each village celebrates the end of the harvest and the months of hard work. Thus, the Hmong new-year takes place over several weeks, and each of them can launch the festivities once the work is done.


These are a dozen days of festivals between several villages that allows the Hmong community to gather, meet and mix. It combines feasts, music, games and traditional dances during which alcohol flows, pigs and all kinds of meat are grilled.

The Hmongs adorn themselves with their finest costumes and traditional jewelry. Women are particularly beautiful while men dress in more discreet clothes. They wear very colorful dresses and headdresses with very sophisticated embroidery, as well as belts and silver jewelry. There is a multitude of different costumes with several meanings such as the membership to a particular tribe or the social rank.

What is the meaning of the ball game held during this event ?


Young adults play the "ball game", traditionnally called Pov Bob. This is a kind of wedding preparation. It looks very simple, the rules are quite strict. Hmong people stand in two facing rows facing, and throw balls to each other for a certain amount of time. If one doesn't catch it, a traditional song has to be played, or a piece of the costume should be given to the partner. If there are good vibes it between the two partners, the couple will get married within the year.

The Hmong ethnic group in Laos and in the world



Originally coming from the mountains of China, Hmong people arrived in Laos quite late (in the early 19th century). They are more than 450 000 in Laos. They are mainly located in high altitude areas and live from farming. They also trade a lot of medicinal herbs, traditional costumes and handicraft. The diaspora of this tribe is very vast throughout the world. There are more than 300 000 of them in the USA, 20 000 in France, Australia, french Guyana, Canada and Argentina.


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