Haitian Réveillon is not a new tradition. The celebration of Réveillon is very important to Haitian families. They use the holiday to get together and enjoy each other’s company. The events usually include special foods and drinks, music, and other activities that bring people together for fun.
The word “Réveillon” comes from the French word for “awakening,” and the tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve with music and food dates back to France in the 17th century. The Haitian version has its roots in African traditions that celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another. Christmas in Haiti is a festive time that lasts for several days. It starts with a reveillon meal and ends with a soup to welcome the new year. Reveillon in English is Christmas Eve.
Many people think that Réveillon only happens on December 31st, but it lasts several days before the new year begins! When I was a young kid, I remember that the festivities would start on Christmas Eve and continue through January 1st, when we would start the new year with our famous Soup Joumou, Squash Soup, or Calabasas Soup. Most Haitian Christmas traditions are the same everywhere.
Several unprecedented events have happened over the years, and many still celebrate réveillon whether they live in Haiti or abroad. Family traditions are significant to us we do our best to preserve them.
Let’s take a look at 5 surprising facts about Haitian Réveillon.
1. Haitian Réveillon is a family affair.
It’s a time for family and friends to get together. The Réveillon celebration is significant to Haitian families. They use the holiday to get together and enjoy each other’s company. The events usually include special foods and drinks, music, and other activities that bring people together for fun. The other activities may represent a “Bal” similar to a party that takes place either indoors or outdoors.
A Bal is also considered a huge party where bands like Carimi, T-Vice, or Enposib will entertain their guests. These paid events attract many people who dance and enjoy each other’s company until dawn.
2. It’s more than just food and dance celebrations
It’s also a religious holiday. The Haitian people are very religious, and Réveillon is a time for them to show their faith in God. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future. We use the Réveillon holiday as an opportunity to reflect on our lives. We celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another by praying for peace, love, and happiness in their lives.
3. We LOVE our traditional foods
Food is served in abundance at a Haitian Réveillon celebration. Besides wearing colorful clothing and decorating our house we enjoy special foods such as rice with beans, fried plantains, griot, and other tasty treats.
Here’s a list of food you are sure to find a Haitian reveillon:
1. Fritaille: Fritaille is simply fritters. A combination of different types of fried foods is served throughout the night. The fried foods are usually: Griot, Tassot de Boeuf (Fried Beef bites), Tassot de Cabrit (Fried Goat bites), Fried Plantains, Fried Sausage, Marinade (seasoned fried dough mixed with meat or plain), Accra, Fried Sweet Potato (batatas) and always served with Pikliz.
2. Rice and beans: We cannot live without our rice and beans. I often hear that we make the best rice and beans, and I agree.
3. Bouillon: a vegetable and meat soup served all night. The soup is also sometimes made with seafood. Many people will also have two types of bouillon or soup, one with meat and another with seafood.
Other foods at a Haitian Réveillon may include the following:
- Pasta Salad
- Macaroni au Gratin
- Salad Russe
- Potato Salad
- Conch Creole/ Lambi
- Chicken in Creole Sauce
- Rice with Djon Djon
- Fried Fish
- Salad: lettuce, tomato, and cucumber
- Patties (pastries filled with codfish, chicken, spinach or beef)
4. We are very selective with our beverages
A Haitian Réveillon is not complete with our favorite drinks. The host is expected to serve Rum Barbancourt, our favorite dark rum made from pure sugar cane juice and bottled in Haiti by Société du Rhum Barbancourt.
5. We love sharing food
If you receive an invite for a Haitian Réveillon, don’t ignore it. Many hosts may consider it an insult, as this celebration is about sharing food with people you love and enjoy being around.
Haitian Réveillon is a time for families to get together and enjoy a nice meal after the long year. It is also an opportunity to eat various foods and celebrate Haiti’s culture. If you plan to celebrate Réveillon with Haitians, bring an empty stomach as the food will be plentiful.
The food is prepared and served in large quantities. It is a time to celebrate Haiti’s rich culture and heritage and the end of a long year. Réveillon is a very important tradition in Haiti, so be sure to enjoy our traditions, good food, and food company.
I hope you will enjoy your time if invited to a Haitian Réveillon, and be sure to share your opinion.
Merry Christmas – Joyeux Noël (French Translation) – Jwaye Nwel (Haitian Creole).