Different from other groups whose New Year starts after the New Year Eve, the Hmong people have their own way of calculating for New Year time. The first "coo" of a cock is the sign of their New Year.
At present, the Hmong population is around 558.000 people of many groups including the White Mong, Flower Mong, Red Mong, Black Mong and Mong Man. They reside mainly in the mountainous areas of Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Son La, Cao Bang, Nghe An and Thanh Hoa provinces.
The Hmong people have their own calendar which is said to be based on the calendar of Di ethnic group in China. Accordingly, their Tet holiday begins at the late November and early December in the lunar calendar of Vietnam. However, currently, most of the Hmong follow the traditional Tet of the Kinh which takes place from the New Year Eve, except for a small group of them living in Moc Chau who keeps their own calendar for Tet.
The Hmong start having rest for Tet from December 25th and 26th. They stop working, all the agricultural equipment and machines are at rest. It’s time to prepare for Lunar New Year.
In the past, the Hmong did not make Chung Cake (or sticky rice cake) – a traditional dish of King people at Tet. Currently, this kind of cake appears in the New Year’s meal of the Hmong, but it’s not the traditional and typical one here. In their menu, meat, wine and corn cake are the dishes that cannot be lacked.
Lunar New Year Celebration of the Hmong People in Sapa
At midnight of the 30th December in lunar calendar, the Hmong worship their dying ancestors by offering a pig and a cock. They then kill these animals for meat. The meat is then cooked to offered ancestors again before being enjoyed by the family members together with corn wine. The meal continues until they hear the coo of a cock that New Year comes.
At the first day of New Year, the Hmong wear their new clothes and shoes to go out. In this holiday, Pao throwing is a traditional and common game which attracts lots of people. In addition, some other games and activities also take place including dancing, pipe singing, cross-bow shooting, horse racing, folk music singing, etc.,
Talking about New Year of the Hmong, Sai San (also known as Gau Tao Festival) is a festival that cannot be ignored. The festival is prepared by one family each year called the host family who has a sick family member or find it hard to have a baby. The main ritual in this festival is praying for luckiness and happiness for the host family. It takes place in a large ground in front of the village with the attendance of almost every villager.
Gau Tau Festival often lasts for 3 days if it takes place annually and for 9 days if it’s celebrated once 3 years. This is the most important festival of the Hmong which demonstrates the special features in the culture of this group in Tet Holiday. After the ceremony part, people join in the singing between men and women and playing their traditional games.
We, Far East Tour travel agency, boast of having circa 12 years of experience in operating tailor-made inbound tours for more than 50.000 customers from all over the world. With our excellent service and professional guides, we have provided numerous tours to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. Read more about us on our official website and travel blog.