H’Mong minority ethnic group in the northern upland province of Son La celebrates the New Year a month earlier than the country’s traditional Lunar New Year, or Tet.
When mist and freezing temperatures pervade the northern upland, young native people start the spring festival with many folk games and activities such as bamboo flute blowing, pa pao pillow throwing, spindle, tug of war and dragon hatching.
Local women make various kinds of cakes from corn and rice flour like banh day (round sticky rice cake) or men men cake, while the elderly gather to drink corn wine, visit one another and extend good wishes on New Year’s Day, according to a report by VietnamPlus.
H’Mong people have unique culture and rich spiritual life, characterized by their costume and cultural activities. Their clothes look very colorful and come with multiple forms that are traits and characteristics of H’Mong people.
Giang Khanh Ly, a resident in Van Ho District, is quoted by VietnamPlus as saying that the costume of a woman can reveal many interesting things about her group. White H’Mong women wear white skirts, V-necked shirts with embroidered patterns in the arms and shirt tails. They usually have their hair shaved, except for the top tuft, and wear a wide turban. Black H’Mong wear indigo black dresses with printed wax patterns and V-necked shirts.
Meanwhile, Variegated H’mong prefer indigo blue dresses with embroidery or printed wax patterns. The shirt is cut at the armpit while the shoulder and chest are covered with colorful fabric and embroidery. They have long hair rolled with horsehair wigs.
Green H’Mong decorate their clothes with colorful pieces of cloth and embroidery motifs simulating snail, square, diamond and cross shapes. As for menswear, the highlight is the broad green pants and a white turban around their head.
Especially, the life of H’Mong people is closely connected to the pan-pipe crafted from six bamboo tubes and a wooden gourd. This musical instrument plays an important role in their spiritual life. Previously, it was used to invoke the spirits of the dead to guide them to their forefathers and relatives. However, it is now used at festivals and other traditional events and especially men play it to express love to girls.
The pan-pipe is considered a cultural symbol of the H’Mong ethnic group as artists can use it to create a wide range of melodious tones.
In joyous occasions like the New Year holiday, people will sing songs with cheerful tunes depicting labor, life, love and friendship. Girls in their new dresses holding colorful umbrellas dance to the music.
Currently, some 130,000 H’Mong people in Son La live in Bac Yen, Moc Chau, Van Ho, Thuan Chau, Mai Son, Yen Chau, Song Ma and Sop Cop mountainous districts, accounting for 13% of the province’s population.