From one country to another, the traditions associated with this
holiday vary. So what is Christmas like Brit style? It is
definitely different from the Haitian Christmas my family keeps
on talking about.
In Britain, adults go out with their friends on Christmas Eve, knowing that Santa Claus is not going to come down the chimney. But for every parent with a child under ten years of age, Christmas Eve is as much a part a yuletide ritual as decorating the tree and singing carols. Families prepare plates of mince pies, glasses of milk (or whiskey if Santa is lucky) and of course carrots for Rudolph and his reindeer chums. The kids are whisked off to bed and come Christmas morning, find that Santa has bestowed them with gifts galore under the Christmas tree. Presents opened, everybody gathers around the table to enjoy copious amounts of turkey with all the trimmings; pigs in blanket, honey roast parsnips and obligatory servings of sprouts, followed by a pudding poured in brandy and flambéed.
Christmas in Haiti
Haitian kids also know that Santa Claus is Caucasian and wears red trousers, and expect him to bring gifts in the night. Since there aren’t chimneys in Haiti, Tonton Nwel, literally translated as Uncle Christmas, leaves the presents on each child’s pillow. Typical gifts include new clothes and shoes.
Christmas in Haiti is hot and all about the party. Right before Christmas Eve, everyone cleans their neighborhood and all the stores remain open 24 hours on the 24th and 25th of December. Because of its Catholic heritage, many families go to Midnight Mass. People also organise big parties, where gate crashers don’t miss the opportunity to grab some griot (fried pork) and fried plantains, and dance with one of the ladies. The entire nation becomes one family as people dance, eat and drink Barbancourt rum through the night. Even though the stores are open on the 25th, most people do not shop because they are recuperating from the previous night’s fiesta.
The party is only getting started!
Despite the fact that many families cannot celebrate Christmas as previously explained due to economical and political challenges, Haitians still celebrate it in their heart and keep on smiling. And all while getting ready for another big day just around the corner – January 1st – which is Independence Day! In the meantime, why not listen to some Haitian Christmas music? Joye Nwel tout moun!*
Merry Christmas everyone!