Culture Celebrated at Hmong New Year

Photos and interviews by Marissa Vang

Video by Michael Barrakat

Editor’s Note: Each year, over a hundred thousand people gather at two locations in Fresno to celebrate Hmong New Year, a multi-day festival that features music performances, traditional Hmong clothing, dancing and performances, courtship games, and authentic food. The kNOw visited the festivities at The Fresno Fairgrounds and asked young people why they were celebrating the Hmong New Year and what they thought about the celebration. 

Nicole Brown: “I’m here to be in the Hmong environment, to see all the different types of clothing, and learn more about the culture. This is my third time. My Hmong friend brought me. They told me there’s games and people getting together to celebrate. It’s great that everyone is friendly and there isn’t any negativity.”
Xeng Chang: “Each year the New Year’s celebration is different and that’s similar to how our Hmong culture changes and expands. We started a second new year’s celebration (in Calwa) and that’s like our own culture- we’re everywhere now. People come from all over to unite in one area. The best thing about the Hmong New Year is seeing people from other races and cultures wear our clothes, spending their new year’s celebrating our culture.”
Sunshine Lee: “It is important to me to wear the traditional clothes so that I don’t lose my family’s roots. I want to pass on this tradition to my own children someday and it pleases my ancestors to wear the traditional clothing. Hmong New Year is important to me because Hmong people from all over the world come together to be one community and one people, to love each other. The best part of the New Year is the food! The Hmong sausage, chicken, fish- everything here is so authentic and good.”
Rocky Vang: “I come to Hmong New Year in order to respect our culture and wear the beautiful clothing. I grew up with traditional dancing, so I love watching the performances and I enjoy being in a dance crew and performing.”

Tim Haydock (he/him/his)
After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Communication from Fresno Pacific University and a Master’s in Theology and Film from Fuller Theological Seminary, Tim returned to his hometown community in Fresno. He spent over 5 years teaching courses on media production and theory at Fresno State University and Fresno Pacific University and was the academic advisor for the Fresno Pacific University student newspaper.

Tim joined his passions for storytelling, education and social justice in January, 2014 when he started running The kNOw Youth Media in Fresno. In May of 2016, Tim became Director of YouthWire, where he led four youth media programs across the state. In the two years Tim was director, YouthWire printed over 200,000 newspapers distributed in dailies across the state, sent reporters to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, was featured in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Fresno Bee, KQED and The New York Times’ Race/Related newsletter, and led storytelling training for over 75 youth from at least 12 different communities in California.

Tim currently serves on the journalism advisory board for Fresno City College and was a New America CA 2017 Fellow, the first from the Central Valley.

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