Hmong people originate from the high steppes of Mongolia and Tibet. They migrated from China to Laos between 1810 and 1900. Having a strong desire for independence they rebelled against the Chinese attempts to control and settle them and they fled in successive waves southwards. During the Lao Civil war in the 1960s and 1970s Hmong were recruited by the CIAs "secret army", commanded by Hmong General Vang Pao. Hmong villages were relocated in free-fire zones and many died during these evacuations or due to fighting. When the communists came to power in 1975 tens of thousands of Hmong fled to Thailand or emigrated to USA. The Hmong New Year celebrations in December, starting from the 15th day of the ascending moon, are accompanied by numerous activities including top-spinning competitions, dances, songs, and bull fights. It is one of the main occasions used for finding a wife or a husband.
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