The scent of celebration is wafting through the ethnic communities of Laos at a time when families reunite and young girls and boys traditionally find a mate.
This month will see the Hmong celebrate their new year, known as Kinchieng, and the Khmu will observe their annual Kreu festival.
Laos consists of 49 ethnic groups each with their own identity, festivals and cultural diversity.
Many districts in Laos have already held their special festivals with the rest expected to do so next week. The people of Meun district in Vientiane province are an exception and will hold their celebrations from January 3-8.
The district is about four hours from central Vientiane and home to the Hmong ethnic group.
The Hmong's distinctive cultural celebrations have been passed on from generation to generation.
They are believers in animism and call the spirits to their homes to protect them from evil.
One new year ceremony involves sacrificing a chicken, with each family in the village required to take part.
Before attending the ceremony, families are required to clean and sweep their homes to remove demons and intransigent spirits, making way for an influx of prosperity and good health.
Over the three days of the new year, Hmong people do not sweep their house, touch sharp knives, guns, axes or other dangerous objects, as they believe that if a family member has an accident and bleeds it is a bad omen.
They also refrain from building new houses, visiting friends or travelling long distances.
At around 4pm, families gather in the centre of town to organise the ceremony to celebrate Kinchieng.
In preparation for the ceremony, each family will kill a chicken in order to scare away ghosts.
They set up a sacred column made with Nhakha (cogon grass) they believe can get rid of evil spirits and malevolent beings in the sun.
A master of ceremonies will cut the chicken's neck to draw blood before pouring it on the column, around which people walk.
They step forward three times to get rid of the bad luck accumulated in the old year, and then step backwards three times to bring all the luck and blessings of Kinchieng to their families.
If family members are unable to take part in the ceremony, parents bring their clothes along, believing their souls are lingering within.
After the ceremony the ill-fated fowl is cooked and eaten by the participating families.
This ceremony can be seen in Hmong communities across Laos.
Traditional Kinchieng activities include bull fighting, spinning top competitions, crossbow contests, the wearing of colourful traditional costumes, folk music and singing.
However, without doubt, the mak khon ball tossing game played by boys and girls is one of the highlights of the festival and brings young men and women together in search of their life partners.
Teenagers and young adults dress themselves in their finest traditional regalia and proceed to their local festivities in the hope of finding true love.
The game of mak khon provides an opportunity for them to indicate their affection by tossing a cotton ball to the person they have set their sights on.
According to the rules, if a woman fails to catch a ball that a man throws, the woman will have to give up a valuable item.
From time to time women fail to catch the ball. They eventually run out of precious items, and then the man will ask the woman to join him in singing songs.
Through the songs they ask each other what they have done over the past year and express their happiness at being together and their sadness that when the festival is over they will have to go their separate ways.
When they have no more songs to sing and no more items to give, the girl will tell the man that she has nothing left to give except her heart.
It is that point that things heat up, and with her consent the man may decide to take her as his life partner.