Christmas in Haiti.
The way I remember it! Although I left Haiti a very long time ago, there is quite a bit I remember. Glad the mind is still working, though! LOL
Christmas in Haiti is almost the same in many countries where the holiday is celebrated. Besides the Christmas decorations and all the festivities that goes with the holiday, two important traditions remain, La Messe de Minuit (Midnight Mass) and Revellion (from the verb reveiller, to wake up or to revive). La Messe de Minuit (midnight mass) is a tradition that many families take very seriously. People are reminded that the savior is coming to save us all and bring us closer to God. “Revellion”, is a long dinner and possibly a party where many people gather to mainly enjoy great foods, chat and reflect on life. Early Christmas morning is the opening of gifts to find out what Tonton Noel (Santa Claus) left for us, followed by a healthy breakfast before going to church. Although many people choose to go to the church on Christmas Eve, many will attend mass again on Christmas day.
The best thing I remember of Christmas day mass is the parade of colorful holiday attire wore by men, women, and children. The men would have their best-tailored suits or a dressy shirt and slacks with their shinny shoes. The women would have their best designer dress or tailored dress, matching handbag and shoes, their hair perfectly coiffed, and maybe a hat that would match their dress. The boys would wear their best dressy shirt with a tie and maybe a suit with their shinny shoes. The girls would wear their most festive hair accessories that match their dresses, embroidered socks or with lace and shiny shoes. At the beginning and end of Mass, the showing off parade will go on until everyone goes home. This was a chance for many to show off their wealth and social and economic status. Although I heard from many friends that the same “parade” happens, but it is more tone down because of the earthquake in 2010 that affected many.
Reveillon is still a huge part of the Haitian culture and many Haitians living abroad. After “La Messe de Minuit (Midnight Mass) on Christmas Eve, it is time to celebrate the awakening of Christ with an extravagant feast. The Reveillon which may be enjoyed at home or at a restaurant is also a celebration of foods. At the Reveillon it is very common to find, Rice with Djon Djon, Rice and Beans, Tassot Cabrit and Tassot Boeuf, Conch Creole, Griot, Marinade, Seafood Soup, Veggies Soup, Chicken Creole, Accra, Pineapple Upside Down cake, orange cake, and many other types of dishes and desserts. This beautiful feast will last the entire night as people would be dancing and singing all night long.
On Christmas morning, a regular healthy breakfast or porridge, eggs, etc.. would be served. Christmas Dinner is a repeat of the same dishes served during Reveillon or an array of additional dishes such as Roasted Turkey, Ham, Tassot Turkey, Macaroni au Gratin, Salade Russe, etc… Besides the regular the stronger alcoholic drinks, Anisette Liquor and Cremas are always in abundance. The end of the festivities always ends with hugs, embraces, and lots of “thank yous” for a day of joy and a prosperous new year.