For Haiti, January 1st as a day for celebration dates all the way back to 1804 when Jean Jacques Dessalines officially declared Haiti an independent nation.
Now, year after year, Haitian families continue to usher in the New Year with a heightened sense of national pride as they gather together to celebrate their freedom and independence.
As a part of this holiday celebration, Haitians have a very special tradition: Haitian homes everywhere are almost guaranteed to have a pot of Soup Joumou prepared for friends and family to enjoy as they celebrate together.
This soup is no ordinary soup though, for the people of Haiti this soup is deeply symbolic of their history, progress and freedom.
A little bit of background:
When Haiti was still a slave colony, Soup Joumou was considered a delicacy and was served only to the Colonial Masters. After Haiti successfully threw off its oppressors and declared its independence, cooking and eating Soup Joumou became a symbol of both Haiti’s fight and new found freedom.
Despite the political turmoil that has plagued Haiti over the years – including current tensions over long delayed elections – January 1st marks a time for celebration and reflection on the the unprecedented victory of this island nation over the colonial power that controlled it more than 200 years ago.
So each year, as you wish your Haitian friends “Bònn Ane!” (Happy New Years), don’t forget to also wish them “Bònn Fèt Lendepandans!” (Happy Independence Day) too.
by Erin Nguyen on January 1, 2015