Independence in Haiti



Independencein Haiti


Independencein Haiti

Haitiis culturally rich and endowed with plenty of natural beauty. Thename ‘Haiti’ was crafted by French settlers in reference to themountainous nature of the country’s landscape. Port-au-Prince isthe capital city of Haiti (Sepinwall, 2012). Examining various facetsof the Haitian culture is a rewarding experience. Haiti celebratesits independence on the same day as the New Year festival (Munro,2010). The Haitian culture has unique dress, music, and food choices.


Voodoois a prominent religion in Haitian culture. It is used a guide forthe choices made by many citizens. The popularity of voodoo has beenexalted to the same level as mainstream Christianity (Michel &ampBellegarde-Smith, 2006). Other forms of religion also dominatecertain regions of the country. However, Independence Daycelebrations are replete with voodoo beliefs and practices. Pumpkinsoup (soup jomou) is used as a symbol of equality. Haitians drinkpumpkin soup during Independence Day. Haiti was formerly a colonyunder French domination. The colonizers exercised supremacy over theslaves and viewed them as inferior. For example, the colonizersconsidered the slaves unworthy of drinking pumpkin soup on New Year(Munro, 2010). Therefore, drinking soup is used to show freedom andself-determination. Haitians also dress in yellow on the night of NewYear’s Eve.

Theolder Haitian women wear polka dotted dresses to signify good luck.On the other hand, men wear home-made shirts sewn from cotton, linen,and denim fabric. Haitians listen to most European music. They alsoembrace African rhythms and routines. Blending European and Africanstyles creates a unique mix. Voodoo practices influence the dancingstyles in Haiti. Some of these styles include kompa and rasin(Sepinwall, 2012). Carribean music is also popular in some sectionsof the country.

OnIndependence Day, the capital experiences the highest influx ofHaitians. The enthused citizens usually enjoy choreographed paradesand participate in many dance routines. Haitians also tour the Champsde Mars as a commemoration of the country`s heroes. Colourfulfireworks usually light up the Haitian skyline (Munro, 2010).Haitians also mark the day by singing renditions of the nationalanthem in proud, passionate voices.

Historyof Independence

Asdiscussed, Haiti was a French colony with a large number of slaveworkers on various plantations. The black slaves revolted againstFrench domination. The rebellion was led by generals such as FrancoisCapois and Toussant L’Ouverture. The revolt started in 1791 whenthe slaves united under Toussant in rejecting slavery (Geggus, 2014).Toussant was later arrested by the Napoleon forces. Later attempts tore-establish slavery were resisted by Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Thecolony of Saint-Domingue gained independence on the New Year`s Day in1804 (Geggus, 2014). Haiti was the first black nation to attainindependence from the domineering Europeans. Therefore, Haitians usethe Independence Day to commemorate the courageous and selflessefforts of persons that brought independence. The music, fireworks,dances, foods and parades on Independence Day are an expression ofHaitian freedom.

Analysisof Holiday Culture

IndependenceDay in Haiti is accompanied with many customs. The majority of suchpractices are rooted in voodoo religion. As highlighted, Haitianswear yellow attire on the night of 31stDecember every year. Parents and guardians provide new clothes fortheir children to signify a new beginning (McAlister, 2002). Manycitizens travel to Port-au-Prince for the holiday celebrations.Ongoing parades provide entertainment for the new arrivals. They alsosing the national anthem to announce their independence. Fireworksare also included as part of the celebrations to add fervour andglamour.

Themajority of Haitians subscribe to Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless,voodoo still controls significant portions of the population. Theactions of many Haitians are informed by the sacred beliefs held byvoodoo (McAlister, 2002). The soup drank on New Year’s Day is madeup of various ingredients. The blacks in Haiti were previously seenas undeserving of drinking the soup. Therefore, pumpkin soup servesas a symbol of freedom (Munro, 2010). Emancipation from the Frenchforces enabled the blacks to assume privileges formerly inaccessibleto them.

Granted,some forms of religion do not participate in the holiday activities.Jews do not drink the pumpkin soup because they prefer to focus onIsraeli cuisine (McAlister, 2004). Jehovah’s Witnesses also avoidthe celebration with its customs due to their repulsion of theOccult. They strictly shun any activities with spiritisticconnotations. During the Independence Day celebrations, Haitiansvisit museums and other sites of natural treasure. Artefacts andother items of memorabilia help to preserve the memories of lifeunder French domination. Such items include music, literature, andpaintings (Sepinwall, 2012). As mentioned, leaders of the rebellionare honoured in the annals of history for their courageous deeds.

Recommendationsfor Nursing Practice

Heathcare providers need to understand the various facets of Haitianculture. Determinants of health are important since they dictatepersonal and community health. The influence of voodoo can beclassified under social factors. Many Haitians use voodoo as a guideto make decisions regarding health care. This calls for tolerance andunderstanding on the part of community health nurses. Respectingpatient wishes is a vital aspect of medical care. The nursingpractice should be concerned about the factors in the environmentthat determine health decisions.


Geggus,D. P. (2014). TheHaitian revolution: A documentary history.Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company.

Jessie.M. C. (2010). “Cultural and clinical care for Haitians.” IndianHealth Services.

McAlister,E. (2002). Rara!:Vodou, power, and performance in Haiti and its diaspora.Berkeley, California: University of California Press.

McAlister,E. (2004). The Jew in the Haitian imagination: A popular history ofanti-Judaism and proto-racism. Race,nation, and religion in the Americas,61-82.

Michel,C. &amp Bellegarde-Smith, P. (2006). Vodouin Haitian life and culture: Invisible powers.New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan.

Munro,M. (2010). Haitirising: Haitian history, culture, and the earthquake of 2010.Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.

Sepinwall,A. G. (2012). Haitianhistory: New perspectives.New York, N.Y.: Routledge.