Ancestry Day is celebrated in Haiti on January 2 every year. It is a national holiday to commemorate the sacrifices and struggles of the Haitian ancestors who laid down their lives in the fight for freedom. It is a day to remember all the loss of lives during the Haitian Revolution and the people’s struggle for emancipation and self-determination, which pinnacled in a declaration of independence on January 1, 1804. Haitians have these two holidays back to back and they commemorate them by having state events, dancing, and eating the traditional ‘joumou’ soup.
History of Ancestry Day
On January 1, 1804, the Republic of Haiti, formerly called ‘Saint Domingue,’ proclaimed its independence from the French colonial government. Thus, Haiti became the first post-colonial independent, black-led nation in the world and the first Caribbean nation to abolish slavery. The African bondsmen working for the French on coffee and sugar plantations, allowing them to gain wealth through a brutally effective enslavement system, had been at war with one another for many decades before this victory.
By 1789, Haiti was a colonized state with over 500,000 imported African bondsmen who were overworked, malnourished, and severely oppressed. The oppressed bondsmen began seeking retribution on the night of August 21, 1791, in what is now known as the Haitian Revolution. The proprietors of the plantations were killed after being dragged from their homes and burned at the stake. Over 4,000 French citizens were slain in the following two months, and 180 plantations were destroyed. About two million French francs were lost as a result. In retaliation, the French quickly formed a militia and started fighting back resulting in the death of 15,000 African bondsmen.
To mitigate the volatile situation, The French National Assembly extended citizenship, civil, and political rights to free Africans and mulattoes in March 1792. Slavery was likewise abolished in the island’s Northern Province by Leger-Felicite Sonthonax, a recently appointed governor. These actions did not affect the struggle until January 1, 1804, when independence was declared. According to the “Encyclopedia of African American Politics,” about 200,000 blacks and thousands of mulattos lost their lives because of disease and war.
Ancestry Day timeline
The Haitian Revolution begins with a bloody slave revolt on August 21.
The French National Convention abolishes slavery in all French colonies.
The Battle of Vertieres brings about a victory for the bondsmen and leads to an independent nation.
Saint Domingue declares independence from France and is renamed ‘Haiti.’
Ancestry Day FAQs
What is the most celebrated holiday in Haiti?
The most celebrated holidays in Haiti include Independence Day, Haitian Flag Day, and Carnival.
Is Haiti an African country?
Haiti is a country located on the North American continent, but about 95% of Haitians are of African descent.
Who is the President of Haiti?
Ariel Henry has been serving as the acting president of Haiti since the assassination of late president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.
How to Observe Ancestry Day
Honor the ancestors
Whether you’re Haitian or not, today is a perfect opportunity to honor those who have gone before us. We should appreciate and remember our ancestors and progenitors since they significantly impacted how we live now.
Celebrate with Haiti
If you know anyone from Haiti, wish them a happy Ancestry Day. If you don’t, feel free to post a message of benevolence on your social media accounts to celebrate with all the lovely Haitians around the world.
Wave the flag
Post a picture of the Haitian flag online and let others know about this holiday. You might want to go further by purchasing an actual flag and placing it on your window, office desk, or car to show solidarity.
5 Important Facts About Haiti
It has had many leaders
In the period from 1804 to 1915, there were 70 dictators in charge of Haiti.
It had an early march to independence
Haiti was the second nation to gain independence in the Western Hemisphere, after the U.S.
It has a national sport
Soccer is the national sport in Haiti.
It has abundant supplies of vetiver
The vetiver root plant, used to make essential oils and perfumes, is grown in Haiti, where half of the world's supply is produced.
Its unique official language
Aside from Canada, Haiti is the only country in the Americas with French as an official language.
Why Ancestry Day is Important
We get to remember the ancestors
This holiday is an opportunity to remember and honor the ancestors who fought to make freedom possible. This yearly celebration ensures that future generations will not forget about their work of love.
History is taught
It is often said, “those who fail to learn from history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” History lessons must be taught for future generations to avoid making the same mistakes as the past.
Independence is honored
Ancestry Day is a day of celebration. It’s a time to celebrate independence and enjoy the benefits of freedom, regardless of skin color.
Ancestry Day dates