For those who aren’t ready to reel in the holiday festivities, there’s good news! From now until Jan. 1, Fresno is home to Hmong New Year celebrations. A cultural celebration that’s bursting with delicious food and amazing attire, Hmong New Year is not to be missed.
This year there are two events happening—one at the Fresno Fair Grounds and one at Granite Park. You can choose to visit either (or both!) but whatever you do, I recommend you try the food. Last year was my first time attending a Hmong New Year celebration and now I’m forever dreaming of purple sticky rice and pork. In fact, I have a friend who takes a cooler to Hmong New Year and fills it with delicious pork, rice, and spicy papaya. She basically stockpiles it.
Of course, it’s not just about the food. When you visit, you’ll see traditional dances, games, and dress everywhere you look. Fresno has the second largest Hmong population in the United States, which makes for an epic New Year celebration. Traditionally, Hmong New Year marks the end of harvest and is a time for giving thanks. Nowadays there’s the added purpose of preserving and celebrating Hmong culture.
For example, you can see tradition at work by watching people play pov pob, a dating game of sorts. Guys and girls toss a ball back and forth and sing songs or make conversation. It’s the traditional way to meet someone special, and it’s fun to watch. The New Year celebrations are fun for all ages. This year, the New Year celebration at the Fairgrounds will also have a Kids Zone.
If you’re looking for color in the gray winter landscape, simply look at the clothing at Hmong New Year. There are many different clans within the Hmong culture, and each clan dresses differently, so there’s a wide variety in colors and design. There’s colorful embroidery and shiny coins sewn onto the clothing, and the result is a vibrant, musical wave of humanity that covers the event.
And it wouldn’t be Hmong New Year without dancing competitions and pageants. You can see traditional dances, hear traditional music, and cheer for your favorite pageant contestant. And, if you’re smart like me, you’ll do it while eating all the amazing food.
Despite my obsession with purple sticky rice and pork, visiting a Hmong New Year celebration has meant more to me than food. I feel like I’ve learned so much about a wonderful culture.
So if you’re looking to expand your cultural experience, head to Hmong New Year and make sure to bring an ice chest for the pork.
There are two Hmong New Year Celebrations to choose from this year:
Hmong International New Year
Where: Granite Park, 4000 Cedar Ave. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: $4, and children 6 and under, senior citizens, military, people using wheelchairs and Fresno County employees are free.
Hmong Cultural New Year Celebration
Where: Fresno Fairgrounds, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: $5, children under 5 are free, senior citizens and military are $3. Parking is about $8 on Chance and Butler Ave.
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