AAPI Month: Hmong and Laos Cultures Celebrate Many Traditions

Gia Cruz & Ben Herrera, Staff Writers

To honor the many contributions of various cultures from around Asia, we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI) in the month of May. This is when we further explore AAPI cultures and traditions and learn about their influence on our world today. This article will focus on two cultures represented on Hoover’s campus, the Hmong and Laos cultures.

According to Ka Xiong, parent of Hoover student Maddison Xiong, Hmong people and Laotions immigrated from China. In the 1970’s, they were forced to leave due to violence which included persecutions and wars. They first migrated from the South-Eastern part of China into Sacramento.

Some of the popular traditions in Hmong culture are (POV POB and TUJ LUB). POV POB, also known as the Hmong ball toss, is a game about chances and connections. Hoover High has been hosting events at lunch in the quad this month for AAPI so the students around campus could participate and learn about some AAPI cultures’ popular games and traditions.

The purpose of POV POB is to help you the find an intimate partner. The girl tosses a ball to a boy she likes in hopes of him returning it, but if he doesn’t like the prospective partner, then he will drop the ball, and that’s where it ends. (www.thestar.com).

TUJ LUB, also known as the game of Jacks, is a game of skill and accuracy. It requires teamwork and strategy. To play TUJ LUB, you need two teams of six players on a court or field that is about 70 feet long and 45 feet wide.

The starting team begins on a hitting/launching space (the carpet). Each hitter must stay within the space when flinging his top. When the hitter flings his TUJ LUB, that person must not cross the foul line. Then, the opposing team throws their tops in the court, trying to knock over the starting teams’. They play until the winning team defends and offends the best and wins.

One popular game that both the Chinese and Hmong culture play is called Chinese Jump Rope.  The game typically requires three players, although more can participate. A rope (or more frequently, a string of rubber bands of about 5-6 meters in length) are tied, forming a circle. Two of the participants, called holders, face each other about 3 meters apart, with their feet together, and position the rope around their ankles so that it is taut.

The third player, the jumper, then stands between the two sides of the rope and must accomplish a specific series of moves without making an error or pausing. The game begins with choosing the jump pattern to follow and with the holders holding the rubber band around their ankles.

There are many jump patterns, and most are accompanied by a song. This is sometimes called the first level. The jumper tries to complete the chosen pattern. If the moves are completed successfully, then the rope is moved farther up, and the series is repeated.

When the rope gets too high for a person to jump over it, the player then kneels and uses his or her hands instead. This jump rope game is mostly played by girls. Chinese jump rope is an active game with the twist of being challenging but fun. (www.DoYouRemmember.com)

Hmong culture also contributes to the variety of popular foods, such as PHO. PHO is healthy, yet delicious. It can be made with any type of meat such as meatballs, raw flanks, brisket and more. It consists of many seasonings and items such as beef, bouillon, sauce, rice noodles, fish sauce, coriander, chili pepper, onion, scallion, lime, hoisin sauce, ginger, star anise, Thai basil, and cinnamon sticks. Like every family and culture, there are different ingredients and recipes to this flavorful dish. (www.allrecipes.com)

Hmong, Chinese, and Laos all have something in common. Their dancing styles are very similar although they have different purposes for why they do it. Their dancing is very well known and entertaining to watch.

Yangge, the preferred name for Chinese dancing, has the purpose of representing their rituals, celebrations, folk traditions, and entertainment or exercise. Yangge is a very important part of their culture.

The Hmong culture has a variety of dances and not many preferred names, but the meaning behind it is to practice of borrowing from different cultures. Dancing is practiced to preserve their culture.

One of the more preferred names for Laos dancing is Iam Vong, which is more popular to folks. lam Vong begins with an individual using head and hand movements based on Buddhist mudras. They are then joined by a partner, and eventually other couples until a crowd forms with three, interconnected and slowly turning circles.

AAPI month helps Americans recognize these unique traditions this month. This list of popular influences is only few of many that AAPI cultures have achieved in America over the years. AAPI cultures’ contributions are everywhere in the U.S. and are appreciated in every part for helping form this country today.

Works Cited

Authentic Pho. (2019, April 4). Allrecipes. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/228443/authentic-pho/

Gitter, K. (2017, March 20). Chinese Jump Rope. DoYouRemember? Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://doyouremember.com/24447/chinese-jump-rope

Price, L. (2019, July 29). The Hmong game of love. The Star. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/archive/2007/05/19/the-hmong-game-of-love#:%7E:text=Throw%20the%20ball%20and%20catch,the%20ball%20he%20throws%20you.