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Photo of children dressed up for New Year
Hmong New Year, December 11, 1999, El Dorado Park, Long Beach

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People of the 38th District of California
A Local Legacy

Can you imagine celebrating New Year's Day in April? You would if you were Cambodian, even if you lived in California.

In the 38th District of California there is a diverse community of peoples from many different ethnic groups, including two groups from Southeast Asia -- Cambodians and Hmongs. Each of these groups celebrates New Year's Day at different times. Many Cambodians fled persecution and mass killing by a brutal government known as the Khmer Rouge during the 1970s. Some of them came to this area of California. The Cambodian New Year is based on the lunar calendar, and is celebrated in mid-April, which is the first month of the year in Cambodia. An astrologer determines the exact date on which the celebration will be held. The Cambodian celebration features native food, religious events, and traditional Cambodian dances.

The Hmong people come from Laos, China, Vietnam, and Thailand, and many of these people came to the 38th District after the tragedy of the war in Vietnam. The Hmong New Year is celebrated in December in the 38th District, but it is celebrated at different times in other places. The Hmong celebrate the New Year by performing rituals to honor the dead and the spirits of nature.

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