Haitian Heritage Month is a nationally recognized month celebrated in May every year. It is a great time to celebrate the vibrant culture, distinct art, delectable cuisine, and to get to know people of Haitian origin. If you’re wondering why we are celebrating Haitian culture in May, we are here with the answer. Haitian Heritage Month is an expansion of the annual Haitian Flag Day, which falls on May 18. The flag day is observed with much pomp and splendor even by the diaspora. That’s how it found its way to the U.S., a country that’s home to a large Haitian population.
History of Haitian Heritage Month
Haiti, a country populated majorly by African descendants, gained its independence from French colonizers in 1804. The Battle of Vertiéres was a testament to the grit of the Haitian people, during which they overthrew the French to become a free country. Haiti was the first Black republic in the world to free itself from colonial rule. Today, the Haitian community exhibits these nuances of their history through their evocative art, literature, costumes, faith, and life.
Haitian culture is an amalgamation of Taino and African practices blended with European elements, thanks to French colonization. This mix of elements can be found in their cuisine too, which includes the rustic flavors of local dishes with a hint of French sophistication.
Moving on to cultural practices, Haitians are a joyous lot. Dancing is a way of life for this community and you can see this on any public occasion, be it a wedding or a church function. The practice of voodoo is also quite prevalent on the island and it entails the act of dancing as a ritual. Like in most communities of Caribbean origin, carnivals are a much-loved affair for Haitians. Their love for dance and music isn’t restricted to their national boundary alone. You can experience a similar festive vibe in Palm Beach County, Florida, where the Haitian community hosts the biggest and most visited heritage month celebrations every year.
If you’re planning to attend the celebration in Florida, dress up in a vibrant Karabela or a Dashiki shirt and dance and sing to your heart’s content. Have fun!
Haitian Heritage Month timeline
“Tele Kreyol,” one of Boston’s Haitian T.V. programs, broadcasts a series on Haitian culture, history, and contributions to the world throughout May.
The Haitian community of Palm Beach County in Florida initiates the first celebration.
President Bush and his wife Laura organize a celebration at the White House to congratulate Haitians for Haitian Heritage Month.
Haitian Heritage Month is celebrated across the nation through festive parades, flag hoisting, and school activities.
Haitian Heritage Month FAQs
What was Haiti’s first name?
Haiti’s first name was Saint Domingue. The name was changed to Haiti after they gained independence in 1804.
What language do Haitians speak?
Almost all Haitians born and raised in the country speak Haitian Creole. A minority of Haitians can speak French too.
Is English spoken in Haiti?
No, Haitian Creole and French are the only two languages spoken in the country.
Haitian Heritage Month Activities
Haitian Heritage Month is celebrated in Miami like nowhere else in the country. From literary sessions to food fests, you can experience it all in Miami. Take a weekend off and travel to this beach city for your best-ever experience of Haitian culture.
Dance at a parade
Haitian parades look more like a carnival. Colorful and pompous, this is where you can dance like no one is watching. Wear your best clothes and groove to the beat of drums this month.
Learn about Haitian culture
If you’re not a Haitian-American, this is for you! Discover all there is to know about this vibrant culture by reading up on it.
5 Interesting Facts About Haiti
Second in independence
Haiti is only second to the U.S. (in the Western Hemisphere) when it comes to gaining independence from European colonizers.
Christopher Columbus discovered Haiti
Haiti was first discovered by Columbus — he thought he had stumbled upon Asia or, to be more specific, India.
They said “no” to slavery
The Haitian Revolution of 1791 did not just end slavery, it also ended French control over the country.
Haiti’s currency is not made from a plant, but they surely derived its name from the gourd — Haitian Gourde (H.T.G.) is what everyone calls it.
Pumpkin soup, anyone?
On the first day of every year, Haitians celebrate their independence by drinking pumpkin soup, which was only considered a meal for the slave masters under French rule.
Why We Love Haitian Heritage Month
It recognizes cultural diversity
This occasion acknowledges and appreciates the Haitian community for their contributions to our nation. By doing so, it upholds the U.S. tradition of multiculturalism.
It empowers self-identity
The month allows students and members of the Haitian community to take pride in their cultural history while maintaining their self-identity. It gives the Haitian community a month to embrace their heritage.
Haitian Heritage Month is synonymous with street fests, concerts, exhibitions, workshops, and more. Maybe take a weekend off and take a trip to Miami this month? Thank us later.
Haitian Heritage Month dates