Hmong New Year honored over weekend on campus

Butch McCartney

Hmong visitors listening to music and watching colorful dances filled the Ade Olson gym at the celebration of Hmong New Year this weekend.

“We’re trying to break the cultural boundaries,” said Eau Claire North High School senior Minelee Vang about the event. Her marketing group, DECA, is researching how to encourage non-Asian residents to attend the event.

People who come to the New Year celebration realize the stereotypes of Hmong being lazy or gangsters are false, she said.

The holiday was traditionally a courtship celebration between men and women. They learned about each other by tossing a soft black ball back and forth.

Many Hmong women at the event wore navy blue turbans and “mrab npib” or silver coins that rang throughout the gym. They also wore pink and red sashes over their black skirts.

Master of Ceremonies Xiong Vang said many of the colors symbolize the emotions performed by dancers. Colors such as white and red symbolize love.

Color can always be found in “pajntaub,” or traditional clothes that tell a story. One clothe showed how the Hmong crossed the Mekong river to Thailand to escape war and poverty in Laos.

Joua Vue Moua said her brother, sister and many of her cousins still live in Thailand because they missed the emigration date to the United States.

Junior Nicole Lindner said the event was a reversal of Hmong students entering an all-white class for the first time. Instead, non-Hmong people were given the opportunity to enter a part of their culture through the celebration.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to learn what other people feel like in their shoes,” Lindner said.

Hmong dance groups performed traditional dances on Saturday and on Sunday and local dance groups had the opportunity to celebrate similar dances. The event gathered Hmong to an important traditional celebration where they could speak in their native language.