ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Hmong Community members demonstrate a strong presence in Minnesota politically and socially. On Saturday alone 20,000 people are expected to be at the St. Paul River Centre, and by the end of the weekend 20,000 more people will have come through the doors just to celebrate their new year.
"It's celebrating all the hardships throughout the year and we just come together as a community to just let it go and start new again." Nou Qou Jayang, Hmong dancer, said.
Taking the Roy Wilkins Auditorium stage to display their talents are just a few Hmong community members. This is just one way they celebrate a new beginning, through dance.
Three days are dedicated to the holiday, plenty of entertainment, food, shopping, friends, family, and of course ball tossing.
"You can ball toss with friends or if you can do it traditionally" Jayang said.
The ball toss is a custom that serves as an icebreaker of sorts. It helps initiate courtship or dating, much gentler than say an American style blind date.
"It's a lot different because you meet random people right there and you just start ball tossing with them." Said Jayang.
Important to the Hmong every New Year is reunion.
"During the new year celebration they wear the best costume, and it's a time to meet others and rejoice in family." Said Mickie Vang. "it's just great to see family and see everyone because this only happens once a year."
"It's a place and time to celebrate." Amee Xiong,Lao Family Foundation Spokeswoman said.
This year our Hmong community has at least two things to celebrate. Politically two new faces to both St. Paul City Council and Minneapolis City Council respectively.
Dai Thao, the first Hmong American Council Member elected in St. Paul, and Blong Yang, the first Hmong American Council Member elected in Minneapolis.
"We have these two Hmong individuals who are elected as the first Hmong City Council in St. Paul and Minneapolis I think we're really happy about that and it's a great time to celebrate in many of those victories." Xiong said.
And the Hmong welcome all creeds and backgrounds, not just their own. "We welcome everyone." Xiong said.
"It's really nice to see how the whole community comes together to celebrate the Hmong New Year." Said Jayang,
"It feels great knowing that other people wants to join our culture too to celebrate our Hmong New Year it's not just the Hmong New Year, but the whole community's." Vang said.
The festivities will continue through December 1st at the River Center in St. Paul.