Heritage is something deeply human we create every day without even noticing. Cultural heritage is how traditions, stories, and even people's characters are made, and one of the best examples of this is in Haitian culture.
Haitian culture is an amalgamation of Taino and African practices blended with European elements. Haitians represent this diversity, with influences from Africa, the Caribbean, Spain, and France.
In their traditions and celebrations, Haitians are blissful. Dancing is a way of life for their communities, and you can see it on any public occasion, be it a wedding or a church function. 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 at The Palm Beach Haitian American Festival in Palm Beach County, Florida, where the Haitian community hosts the biggest and most visited heritage month celebrations every year.
A piece of Haitian history
Haiti gained its independence from French colonizers in 1804, becoming the first Black republic to free itself from colonial rule.
Haitian Heritage Month is an expansion of the annual Haitian Flag Day, which falls on May 18. Flag Day has been a major holiday in Haiti since 1803 when the revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines tore up a French tricolor and
had his goddaughter, Catherine Flon, stitch together the country’s first independent flag.
The new banner consisted of a red and a blue stripe, without the central white stripe of the tricolor. It is said to symbolize the unity of the nation’s people of color and the rejection of its white colonizers. Not until Jan. 1, 1804, Haiti officially declared independence from France, becoming the first free state in the Caribbean liberated and governed by its former slaves. That revolutionary spirit is still a source of national pride and celebration.
Haitian women in history
Haitian women have played a crucial role in shaping Haiti’s history while advancing women’s rights around the region and on the long-lasting frontlines of our struggle for equal rights and liberation.
We have seen remarkable women making a difference in their chosen fields and communities and being pivotal in Haitian heritage throughout history. They all shared a passion for seeking to make a positive impact as they gave their time, talents, and, sometimes, their own life for their country.
We celebrate incredible women like Adbaraya Toya, a warrior of the “Dahomey Amazons” who trained on how to fight Jean Jacques Dessalines, one of Haiti’s founding fathers, and many others and commanded her brigade in the Haitian war of independence.
In 1950 Alice Garoute helped form a book club that swiftly turned into a political organization because of US military occupation. They sent a delegation to Washington, D.C., to demand that the US military stop sexually assaulting Haitian women as a way to inflict terror on the community. When she died in 1950, she asked that flowers not be placed on her grave until all Haitian women were granted the right to vote, which happened seven years later.
Maryse Vieux-Chauvet, a novelist Marleine Bastien, an activist, Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, an ex-president, and so many other extraordinary women are examples and inspirations of the power that women hold in history.
By acknowledging the role of Haitian women today, we hope to recognize the role that all Black women continue to play in our collective liberation throughout the world.
Today, the Haitian community exhibits their heritage and folklore of their history through their dances, costumes, faith, and life. It is a great time to celebrate their vibrant culture, distinct art, and delectable cuisine and get to know the beautiful people of Haitian origin.
So get out there, find a Haitian restaurant, go to a festival, talk with a friend, and experience firsthand the heritage of our beautiful people.
Through our various projects at Womenful Voice, we aim to empower the women and girls in Haiti and bring them closer to the future they dream for themselves and their future generations.