Christmas in Haiti, oh, how I long to spend another holiday in my homeland.
My memory is not the same anymore as I am getting older. Although I left Haiti a very long time ago, I still remember fond memories. I remember how life was simpler and less complex. I am so glad that the mind is still working to reminisce about the old days.
Two festive traditions of Christmas in Haiti
Christmas in Haiti is almost the same in many countries where the holiday is celebrated. Besides the Christmas decorations and all the festivities that go with the holiday, two important traditions remain, La Messe de Minuit (Midnight Mass) and Revellion (from the verb reveiller, to wake up or revive).
La Messe de Minuit (midnight mass) is a tradition 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 enjoy great foods, chat and reflect on life mainly. 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.
My souvenirs of this special holiday
The best thing I remember of Christmas day mass is the parade of colorful holiday attire worn by men, women, and children. The men would have their best-tailored suits or a dressy shirt and slacks with their shiny 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 a suit with their shiny shoes. The girls would wear their most festive hair accessories that match their dresses, embroidered socks, or lace and polished shoes.
At the beginning and end of Mass, the “showing-off” parade was classic and a tradition by most people. This parade would continue until everyone went home after running out of compliments. 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, it is more tone down because of the earthquake in 2010 that affected many people and economic status.
More about Le Réveillon
Reveillon is still a huge part of 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 a restaurant, is also a celebration of food.
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/fritters, 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 will dance and sing 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 different dishes such as Roasted Turkey, Ham, Tassot Turkey, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Salade Russe etc. Besides the regular and more robust 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.
Hopefully, we will get to go back soon and relive those beautiful memories with family and friends.
Happy Holidays! Gemma