Thousand flocking to the Valley to celebrate Hmong New Year

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- An apple cider toast for good luck and the Hmong New Year celebration was underway at the Merced County Fairgrounds.

This is a time guests proudly display their bright, colorful outfits. The coins they wear and each piece of clothing represents which Hmong clan they represent.

"To remember my culture you get to wear the beautiful outfits and embroidery, and you can only whip it out once a year so that's why I like it," said Erin Xiong, Sacramento.

Erin, 21, and 18-year-old Kao Xiong of Sacramento believe it is important younger people gain a better understanding of their culture.

"This generation there's not a lot of kids who know about our traditions anymore, including what our clothes mean to us," said Kao.

The celebration though is a time to socialize and enjoy some barbeque and papaya salad.

"Honestly, I enjoy the food. It's my entertainment, but then besides that, I come here for the dance competition, the singing, and the pageant competition," said Kao.

A dozen groups will take part in the dance competition.

Many of the families in Merced also attended Hmong New Year events in Sacramento and Stockton.

"Mostly throughout California, some from Minnesota and Wisconsin and North Carolina," said Moua Thao, Celebration Chairman.

Sports competitions are also set for this weekend when as many as 10,000 people make their way to Merced to catch up with old friends and make news ones.

Many of the folks in Merced will attend the Hmong New Year celebration at the Fresno Fairgrounds which begins December 26th.
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