The first of January is the start of a new year, but for Haiti, it also stands for much more. New Year’s Day is also Haiti’s Independence Day, a national holiday commemorating the declaration of independence from France in 1804. In celebration of such a monumental event in their history, Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city, holds parades every year for families and friends to watch. The day is also marked with beautiful fireworks, dancing, and musical renditions of the national anthem to pay homage to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the hero of the revolution. An important New Year’s Day tradition is having soup joumou, a spicy soup traditionally cooked with pumpkin, beef, and vegetables. Eating soup joumou on New Year’s Day has been symbolic of Haiti’s liberation.
Followed closely by the New Year’s celebrations, the Day of Ancestors takes place on January 2nd in Haiti. This holiday celebrates the life of the forefathers who gave their lives for the purpose of independence. This struggle for freedom of Haiti from French rule first began in 1791 and is estimated to have cost 350,000 Haitian lives. Consequently, these lost lives are celebrated by military processions and often feature public addresses.
Written by Kat Dinh and Zahra Fallah