Hmong Traditions

Hmong Ball Tossing Tradition

The first day of the New Year is special for the unmarried young men and women. They will gather in the field all dressed up in their new clothing, wearing many ornaments and special decorations. Forming their own lines, the boys and girls toss a soft ball, made of cloth, and sing to each other. This continues for days, each taking turns tossing to different partners.

The ball is a symbol of the relationship between a young man and a young woman. The ball toss helps them get to know each other, so they can get married and live together forever.

Ball tossing is also played as a sport. The person who drops the ball will pay the person who drops the ball with money, necklace, ring, sash, or other pieces of their jewelry or clothing. This is just for fun. When the game stops, all possessions are returned.

Hmong Marriage Customs

The young couple who met tossing ball may want to get to know each other better. The young man will ask the girl if he can visit her. If her parents agree, a time is set. When he arrives, he plays a flute to announce his arrival. The young couple will talk in the girl's home or outside the home, always staying where other people can see them. If after several days, weeks or months they decide to get married the girl follows the man to his home.

The young man's parents immediately send two persons as messengers to the girl's parents to let them know that their daughter is safe in their home. After three days the young man, his bride and his parents will come to visit the girl's home to negotiate the dowry and arrange the wedding celebration.

If everything is satisfactory with both families, the girl's parents throw a large party. All of the villagers, friends and relatives from surrounding villages come to enjoy the wedding feast.

The young couple will prepare themselves for their role in the yearly cycle of life as a Hmong in Laos.