Although Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, the country has a proud and noble history: It was the first independent country in Latin America and the Caribbean, the first black-led republic in the world and the second republic in the Americas after it gained independence in 1804, the result of a successful slave revolution that lasted nearly a decade. Many celebrations integrate voodoo and oral history (known as "krik krak" in Haiti), and its lively festivities reflects Haiti's deep Creole roots.
Carnival is Haiti's biggest celebration. The word derives from "carnavale," which in Latin means "meat farewell." Celebrations for carnival usually begin at the end of January and end with "Fat Tuesday," or Mardi Gras, when different types of fats are consumed at home. Following Fat Tuesday is the Catholic holiday Ash Wednesday, which also marks the start of lent. Carnival is marked by colorful parades, lively music, traditional art and dances throughout Haiti.
Rara, which originated in Haiti, is celebrated during Easter week. It revolves around festival music played during street processions; the vaksen (cylindrical bamboo trumpets), maracas and metal bells are often played during these processions. By Good Friday, the streets of cities and towns are packed with bands, dancers and colorful and glittering costumes. During the street processions, musicians shout out refrains of special songs, and people also create impromptu percussion instruments with soft-drink bottles and skillets.
Independence Day is celebrated on New Year's Day, which is when Haiti gained independence from France in 1804. On January 1, thousands of people gather in Port-au-Prince, the country's capital, and watch parades, as well as visit the National Palace on the Champs de Mars. The day is also marked by fireworks, dancing in the streets and the singing of the national anthem.
Voodoo, an important belief system that shapes daily life in Haiti, was declared an official religion in 2003 by the Haitian government. It's no surprise, then, that several holidays originate from the practice, as voodoo priests now have the legal authority to perform baptisms and weddings. Fet Gede, or All Souls Day, is a national holiday arising from voodoo and celebrated on the first and second of November. During Fet Gede, voodoo practitioners go to cemeteries to give food and drink offerings and to pray. Celebrations also continue at voodoo temples during the evenings.
Last modified on Wednesday, 28 December 2016 11:32