Working with the people of Haiti has exposed our teams to the rich culture and customs of the people. Some vary slightly from family to family and village to village. Others remain consistent throughout the areas we work. We thought that it would be fitting at this season to share some of the Christmas customs practiced across Haiti.
Christmas Customs
  • Reveyons – Many families go to Midnight Mass. After Mass, families and friends gather to for parties known as reveyons. Reveyons often include elaborate meals. They are a tradition that can be traced to the French reveillon in the late 1800’s.
  • Woslè – While the adults visit, the children play the game called reveyon, which is similar to “Jacks.” Since it is played so often, the games become tournaments of skill among the older children.
  • Pi detwal / Peta – Creole for the French pluie d’étoile,” Pi detwal is Kreyol translates to meteor shower or rain of stars. As the evening goes on the celebration includes sparklers or roman candles that the children light at nighttime in their yards.
  • Fanal – French for lantern, fanals are intricately designed paper boxes. They are cut and decorated with tissue paper before being placed on the porches or in windows. Because of their designs, they serve as lights for passers by.
  • Krema – This is a traditional beverage for reveyon, and similar to eggnog it is made with Haitian rum, coconut milk, ground nutmeg, evaporated and condensed milk and vanilla.

As you can see, many of these traditions are similar to those practiced in many other parts of the world. While these traditional may vary from village to village, they all have one thing in common, family. This strong tradition of family is one we see over and over again in our work. As a result, we are always increasingly inspired to provide the resources that help keep families together and improve their quality of life.

So, as our friends in Haiti say, Ala bon sa bon Jou Ferye nan tout zanmi nou an!

Happy holidays to all our friends!

~Michael and Frida Donner