Monday, January 10, 2011

Romance HMONG-style

Interesting customs of Hmong tribal youth,Northern Thailand.

One month ago we attended their 2554 New Year celebrations which differ from both Thai and Chinese New Year calendars. No matter where they work, near of far, many will make the yearly trek back to their villages. Both sexes enjoy decking themselves in all their hand-woven and hand-sewn tribal finery.Never mind that to a westerner, some of the womens' headgear resembles fancy lampshades!

Romance between boys and girls begins in their early teens around fourteen/fifteen years of age. And we witnessed a fascinating courtship ritual. Boys line up opposite the girls (also lined up,) and they begin by throwing a soft foam ball to each other. I'm unsure whether they change partners during this time until they find the person of their choice. No kissing or overt touching is allowed in public, so this actually gives them the opportunity to talk and laugh and flirt with each other under the watchful eyes of their elders.  It all looked so innocent, and we enjoyed watching them eye each other. They seemed to have a ball. Pun intended!

The unmarried often wear white garments, similar to virgins of the Karen tribes who wear long white dresses. We were told they marry very young and begin their families early, often becoming great grandparents before fifty years old. See what a little thing like throwing a ball can lead to?


Margaret Lepke said...

How very interesting! Would save many pitfalls of today's dating scene:) Looking forward to more posts, Rita, thanks.

Wendy Sargeant said...

Hi Rita,

As a folklore and history buff I'm fascinated by this story.