Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
Did you know that May 14 is Hmong American Day?? It’s a day officially celebrated in Minnesota since 2013! May 14 is also known as Hmong Veterans Day to honor Hmong veterans who fought alongside the U.S. in the Vietnam War.
Not a lot of people know about this important day in history so let me give you a super quick lesson…
On May 14, 1975, Hmong General Vang Pao of the Royal Lao Army, fled Laos when communists seized power of the country. He escaped to the United States and made Minnesota home. The Hmong community has grown tremendously since then, with hundreds of thousands mostly living in Minnesota, and all over the country.
It was only in 2013 when the state of Minnesota officially proclaimed May 14 as Hmong American Day and has been celebrated annually since then.
During this day, community leaders, veterans, families, and friends gather to honor history and culture. There’s Hmong instrumental music, cultural activities, stories of Hmong history, and a delicious feast of Hmong cuisine. The younger generation also gets to enjoy cultural activities such as paj ntaub or Hmong traditional needlework and rhia yaas, which is Hmong rubber band jump rope.
It’s very important to stay connected and to honor one’s heritage. Celebrating Hmong American Day annually is one way to remind the younger generation to give thanks to those who have worked and sacrificed to keep the community safe and thriving.
Imagine how difficult it was for the Hmong refugees and their families who came to the States during a period of really dark turmoil. They had to leave everything behind. But because they imagined a better future for generations to come, they strived to build a new home from nothing and have prospered through time.
Since we live on the other side of the country, away from where most of the festivities usually happen, my way of teaching and reminding the girls about Hmong heritage is to dress them in beautiful Hmong clothes.
Hmong clothing is so well-made and colorful, it’s also hard not to be in a good mood whenever I have them wear a cute poofy dress or an embroidered cape. The needlework is intricate and mesmerizing, I just love running my fingers all over it. Fun story though because throughout my childhood and even my teenage years, I had no interest in Hmong clothes, but today I am always looking for Hmong clothes to buy especially on Facebook live. I have a deeper appreciation for my culture and traditions at an older age and I look forward to sharing them with my daughters one day.
Also quite timely to the Hmong American Day, I did a Mommy & Me photoshoot, who are proud Hmong Americans and I could not wait to share this session and day with you all (sorry, it took me awhile). They chose to honor heritage and tradition by wearing Hmong Vietnamese garments for the shoot. I had a great time capturing the story of two generations, mother and daughter, a lovely passing on of rich tradition. We caught the pretty glow of the golden hour with a vast meadow as our backdrop and I couldn’t ask for better models. My momma and daughter tag-team were naturals in front of the camera and just had loads of fun while I clicked away.
What family traditions do you continue to pass on generation after generation? I’d love to hear your family’s story!
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