Hmong New Year - Luang Prabang

Hmong New Year

The Hmong are among the most well-known ethnic groups in Laos, fiercely proud of their identity and protective of their unique culture. They have their own spoken and written language, and they have 3 big subgroups in Laos.

The three Hmong subgroups in Laos – Hmong Dao (White), Hmong Du (Black), and Hmong Djua (Striped) – are easily distinguishable by their traditional clothing.

Dates and Celebrations:
The Hmong celebrate their New Year, called Noj Peb Caug (pronounced Nor Pe Chao), primarily in December or January. The festival coincides with the first new moon in a 12-moon cycle, making it fall within either December or January on the Western calendar. This vibrant event lasts for up to seven to fourteen days, bringing people together from numerous villages

During the festivities, a sea of people dressed in their colorful traditions. As hundreds adorned in Hmong garb weave through the celebrations, you might even witness the blossoming of new romances through various courtship games.

Home and Public Celebrations:
While the heart of the festival lies in family homes, where families prepare rice cakes, present offerings to ancestors, and share meals with loved ones, larger public celebrations unfold in towns like Luang Prabang. These vibrant outdoor gatherings can last a full week, offering a diverse array of activities such as arrow shooting contests, singing and dancing competitions, beauty contests, bullfighting, and traditional courtship games.

A Unique Artistic Touch:
A distinctive feature of these celebrations is the Hmong qeej (a mouth organ, also known as khaen in Lao), a popular performance instrument. Skilled players can weave their captivating melodies while simultaneously dancing and even performing acrobatics, adding a truly unique element to the festivities.