CHRISTMAS TRADITONS IN HAITI
When it comes to Christmas we each have our own family traditions, and the countries where HHA works are no exception. Here’s a small insight into how HHA-supported families celebrate Christmas around Haiti…
At the beginning of December (usually from the 1st), Haitians start looking for Christmas Trees. They might cut pine branches or go to the market and get trees brought from the mountains. The trees are decorated with bright ornaments and a nativity scene at the bottom of the tree - sometimes the trees and scenes take up a lot of the living room! Churches and other organisations also have trees on display outside their buildings (with artificial trees also very common as they last longer!) on Christmas Eve, children place their newly cleaned shoes, filled with straw under the tree on the porch. They hope that Santa (called 'Tonton Nwèl') will remove the straw and put presents in and around the shoes. Traditionally, Haitians will go to a midnight mass church service and then come home to participate in a meal called ‘reveillon’ (meaning ‘to wake up’). This meal normally starts in the early hours of Christmas morning and lasts until sunrise. Christmas Day is much quieter with most sleeping off the celebrations of the night before! However, there will be plenty more eating and playing with the toys from Tonton Nwèl.
In Haiti they say ‘Jwaye Nowe’ which means ‘Happy Christmas’ in Creole/Haitian. French is also commonly spoken in Haiti where they would say 'Joyeux Noël'.