Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab! Happy Hmong New Year!

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“…a time where my Hmong community is pulling out their suitcases of Hmong clothes to pick out their Hmong outfits to dress up to end the year and ring out the new year, xa lub xyoo laus, tos txais lub xyoo tshiab.”

During my high school years, I was very much involved with my hometown’s new year festivities. I served as an MC, organized cultural performances, and choreographed dances for my young siblings and cousins. One year, an elderly woman who I called grandma taught me a beautiful kwv txhiaj plees, (poetic Hmong folk song that is sung in acapella about love) and I have kept it with me since then. She also taught me the romance behind kwv txhiaj and how beautiful the lyrics can be depending how long you have been singing kwv txhiaj. Kwv txhiaj has been considered by some as an “old way” of expression but I’m here to say, it’s one of the most beautiful aspects of our Hmong culture. There are different types of kwv txhiaj with different tones depending on the type of Hmong you belong to and the occasion. There are kwv txhiaj for funerals, community in general, siblings (kwv txhiaj nkauj muam, nraug nus, weddings (zaj tshoob) and yearnings about lost land (kwv txhiaj tsiv teb tsaws chaws).

Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab! Happy Hmong New Year! It’s that time of the year, where families and friends get together for a huge feast and be thankful and then go shopping the next day during Black Friday. It is also a time where my Hmong community is pulling out their suitcases of Hmong clothes to pick out their Hmong outfits to dress up to end the year and ring out the new year, xa lub xyoo laus, tos txais lub xyoo tshiab. It is also a time that I’m on social media more than usual to view photos and videos of the Hmong New Year celebrations across the United States. An exciting time, indeed!

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“Kwv txhiaj has been considered by some as an “old way” of expression but I’m here to say, it’s one of the most beautiful aspects of our Hmong culture.”

Kwv txhiaj plees expresses one’s love for another, if you listen carefully, the words are deep and employs your own interpretation in regards to someone’s heart. If you want to know someone’s deepest thoughts, their kwv txhiaj says it all. Speaking of someone’s heart, my parents’ and grandparents’ generation was taught to be humble and never directly share your interests with someone who has captured your heart. During the Hmong New Year celebrations, kwv txhiaj plees was a way to indirectly share your interests to the other person while playing a game of ball tossing (pov pob). This holiday weekend, I won’t be attending any new year celebrations to celebrate it, I’m going to share the beautiful kwv txhiaj plees my grandma taught me years ago. Kwv txhiaj plees are usually long with 4-6 verses. Mine is only two verses so it’s a short and sweet one.

 

Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab! Lub xyoo tshiab no thov kom txhua leej, txhua tus ntsib kev noj qab haus huv, ua dab tsi los ua kom tau li siab ntshaw.

Happy New Year! For this new year, I wish for everyone to be well spirited and to eat and drink with purity, and accomplish everything as your heart desires.

Verse 1

Nib yai… ntuj teb os txiv leej tub

Nib yai… addressing the man (txiv leej tub) of interests by calling the world’s attention (ntuj teb) to him

Cas kab kooj rau khau nplooj es kooj kab tuaj rau khau to

Why have you come from far away, with different clothes, different shoes with leaves and all torn? Kab kooj and koob kab are referring to insects that travels, it’s a poetic way of referring to the man of interests indirectly who is wearing his own clothes and shoes that seems very different.

Es txiv leej tub koj lub ncauj daj siab tsis yuav, tsis txhob daj deev kuv niam leej ntxhais

Addressing the man’s mouth (lub ncauj) and heart (siab) of truth, please if you are not serious, don’t provoke/seduce my mom’s daughter’s (referring to self as a woman) heart.

Nco, nco txiv leej tub lub ntuj no taws plaws lub ntuj sov

For she will miss you throughout the cold days into the warm, hot summer days

Verse 2

Nib yai… ntuj teb os txiv leej tub

Nib yai… addressing the man (txiv leej tub) of interests by calling the world’s attention (ntuj teb) to him

Cas kab kooj rau khau nplooj es koob kab tuaj rau khau ntoo

Why have you come from far away, with different clothes, different shoes with leaves and all wooden? Kab kooj and koob kab are referring to insects that travels, it’s a poetic way of referring to the man of interests indirectly who is wearing his own clothes and shoes that seems very different.

Es txiv leej tub koj lub ncauj daj siab tsis yuav, tsis txhob daj deev kuv niam leej ntxhais

Addressing the man’s mouth (lub ncauj) and heart (siab) of truth, please if you are not serious, don’t provoke/seduce my mom’s daughter’s (referring to self as a woman) heart.

Nco, nco txiv leej tub lub ntuj mus tuaj lawm thawm niaj thawm xyoo os txiv leej tub …

For she will miss you throughout one year after another…

 

Are you a lover of kwv txhiaj? Do you enjoy kwv txhiaj? Do you know a few verse? Let me know your thoughts or post a recording of your kwv txhiaj below. I’d love to hear it.

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