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Celebrating Hmong Gratitude

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By Paige K Slighter

Around Thanksgiving, Mai and her family celebrate Hmong New Year. Their church, the Hmong Mennonite Church, is a partner organization that shares our building on Sunday evenings. Hmong New Year is a cultural tradition to encourage gratefulness and welcome new beginnings. Hmong Americans often pair Thanksgiving and New Year together, but Hmong people living in Thailand, Laos, China and Vietnam just celebrate Hmong New Year. Regardless of location, Hmong New Year is a time to gather together after the harvest and enjoy shared crops. Many families celebrate a good harvest with sticky rice pancakes, also known as Ncuav.

Mai’s Grandmother making Ncuav the modern way with black sweet rice.

Traditionally Ncuav is made using a large wooden bowl and two wood mallets to pound the rice until it becomes dough-like. It takes a lot of strength and effort to make these delicious cakes. After a couple hours of pounding, the dough is wrapped in banana leaves or bamboo to flatten. You can see Ncuav being made here.

Today, many Hmong Americans make Ncuav the modern way with a mochi machine or an electric bread maker. It’s much easier and less of a mess.

It’s ready to be frozen and/or enjoyed!

If you’d like to celebrate the Hmong New Year with Mai and her family, the Hmong Mennonite Church welcomes guests! Join them on November 24 from 3-5pm. Dinner will follow. For more information, contact Mai Yang at myyang0921@gmail.com

Check out the modern Sticky Rice Pancake Ncuav Recipe!

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