Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Largest gathering of Hmong expected at New Year's celebration

Hmong performers entertain the large crowd celebrating the Hmong New Year in Fresno, California.
MORE THAN 100,000 attendees are heading to Fresno this week for the three-day-long Hmong International New Year celebration, reports ABC30 News. The event began Dec. 26 and will last until Jan. 1.

Throughout the Fresno fairgrounds, people will be playing games and wearing formal Hmong costumes, traditions brought from overseas that the celebration hopes to keep intact over the generations. More than 200 vendors can be found selling traditional garb, food, music, flowers, crafts, and much more. There are also multiple competitions for sports, singing, dance, and the Miss Hmong International Beauty Pageant.

Hmong from all over the U.S. will attend this
week''s celebration in Fresno, CA.
In the middle of the fairgrounds sits a statue of General Pang Vao, an important political figure in the Hmong community. Christina Vang said of the statue, “Without him, we wouldn’t have this opportunity to be here.”

Now the largest Hmong/American celebration, the Hmong International New Year was founded in 1999, reports NBC News.

“It is the largest assembly of the Hmong ethnic group in the United States and perhaps in the world,” said Elk Grove, CA Mayor Steve Ly, the first Hmong/American mayor in the U.S.

The Hmong International New Year celebration in Fresno caps off the long chain of celebrations across the nation that began in October.

“It is a significant cultural celebration for families and clan members to celebrate the New Year privately — often referred to as ‘Eating 30’ — and public festivals that include song, poetry, and courtship games for youth,” said Seng Alex Vang, professor at UC Merced and CSU Stanislaus, told NBC News.