Celebrate the Valley’s Hmong Heritage This Holiday Season
combine cuisine and culture for some creative celebrations
When Hmong immigrants began moving to the Chippewa Valley in the 1970s and ’80s they brought their New Year celebrations with them. Each autumn, large gatherings are held nationwide – including here in Eau Claire – where Hmong-Americans celebrate the harvest and honor their ancestors with fellowship, food, music, and dance. Over the years, these gatherings have become important not only to Hmong people but to their neighbors, too, providing a joyous way for those of us who are not Hmong to learn about their rich culture. In recent years, the two-day community celebration in November at the L.E. Phillips YMCA Sports Center has drawn thousands of visitors. Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly), the COVID-19 pandemic led the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association to cancel its New Year celebration for 2020. While you’re waiting for the 2021 gathering, there are a few things you can do to celebrate the Valley’s Hmong roots.
Try a Hmong recipe!
In the issue, Volume One contributor Yia Lor offers her family’s recipe for purple sticky rice. You can also find some cookbooks of Hmong (Hmoob) cuisine at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library and other local libraries.
Patronize a Hmong business.
Some of the Chippewa Valley’s tastiest eateries – including Egg Roll Plus, Noodle Wrap, Thai Orchard, and many more – are Hmong-owned or feature Hmong cuisine. Whether to carry out or dine in, your tastebuds will thank you.
Learn about local Hmong culture.
A good place to start is PBS Wisconsin, which last year created a multimedia profile of the late Joe Bee Xiong, a leader in the Valley’s Hmong community and the first Hmong-American elected to public office in Wisconsin. The resources include an animated biography told in the style of a Hmong story cloth. While the profile is aimed at kids, it’s education for people of all ages. Find it at pbswisconsineducation.org.