Traditions and customs of Haiti

What traditions and customs are there in Haiti?

We will know the customs and traditions of Haiti.


Food in daily life

Nutritional deficits are not due to inadequate knowledge, but to poverty. Most residents have a sophisticated understanding of dietary needs, and there is a well-known system of indigenous food categories that closely approximates modern, scientifically informed nutritional categorization.

Rural Haitians are not subsistence farmers. Peasant women often sell much of the family harvest in regional open-air markets and use the money to buy food for the household.

Rice and beans are considered the national dish and are the most consumed food in urban areas. The traditional staples of the countryside are sweet potatoes, cassava, yams, corn, rice, pigeon peas, cow peas, bread, and coffee. More recently, a blend of wheat and soybeans from the United States has been incorporated into the diet.

Among the most important sweets are cane sugar, mangoes, gizzards, peanuts, and sesame seeds made from melted brown sugar, and sweets made from bitter manioc flour. People make a raw but very nutritious sugar paste called rapadou.

Haitians typically eat two meals a day: a small breakfast of coffee and bread, juice, or an egg, and a large afternoon meal dominated by a carbohydrate source such as cassava, sweet potatoes, or rice.

The evening meal always includes beans or a bean sauce, and there is usually a small amount of poultry, fish, goat, or, less commonly, beef or lamb, typically prepared as a sauce with a sauce. tomato paste base.

Fruits are appreciated as snacks between meals. Non-elite people don’t necessarily have communal or family meals, and people eat wherever they feel comfortable. A snack is usually eaten at night before going to sleep.

Food customs on ceremonial occasions

Festive occasions such as baptismal parties, first communions, and weddings include the obligatory Haitian colas, a cake, a domestic rum-spiced concoction (“kleren”), and a thick, foamy drink made with condensed milk called “kremass.”

The middle class and the elite celebrate the same festivities with Western soft drinks, Haitian rum (Babouncourt), national beer (Prestige), and imported beers. Pumpkin soup (“bouyon”) is eaten on New Year’s Day.


Marriage between the elite and middle classes is expected, but less than forty percent of the non-elite population marry (an increase from the past as a result of recent Protestant conversions).

However, with or without legal marriage, a union is typically considered complete and commands the respect of the community when a man has built a house for the woman and after the first child has been born. When marriage does occur, it is usually later in the couple’s relationship, long after a home has been established and children have begun to reach adulthood.

Couples often live on property owned by the man’s parents. Living on or near the wife’s family property is common in fishing communities and in areas where male migration is very high.

Although not legal, at any given time about 10 percent of men have more than one single wife, and these relationships are recognized as legitimate by the community. The women live with their children on separate farms that are provided for by the man.

Extraresidential mating relationships that do not involve the establishment of independent households are common among wealthy rural and urban men and less fortunate women.

Incest restrictions extend to first cousins. There is no bride price or dowry, although women are usually expected to bring certain household items to the union and men must provide a house and garden plot.


Upon entering a patio, Haitians shout onè (“honor”), and the host is expected to respond respè (“respect”). Visitors to a home never leave empty-handed or without coffee, or at least not without an apology. If the departure is not announced, it is considered impolite.

People are very comfortable with greetings, the importance of which is particularly strong in rural areas, where people along a road or in a village often greet several times before engaging in further conversation or continuing their conversation. road.

Men shake hands during meeting and departure, men and women kiss each other on the cheek when greeting, women kiss each other on the cheek, and rural women kiss female friends on the lips as a sign of friendship.

Young women do not smoke or drink alcohol of any kind except on festive occasions. Men typically smoke and drink at cockfights, funerals, and festivities, but are not heavy drinkers.

As women get older and get involved in itinerant marketing, they often start drinking kleren (rum) and using powdered tobacco and/or smoking tobacco in a pipe or cigar. Men are more likely to smoke tobacco, especially cigarettes, than to use snuff.

Men and especially women are expected to sit in modest postures. Even people who are intimate with each other find it extremely rude to pass gas in the presence of others. Haitians say “sorry” (“eskize-m”) when they enter another person’s space. Brushing teeth is a universal practice.

People also go out of their way to shower before boarding public buses, and it is considered appropriate to shower before taking a trip, even if it is in the hot sun.

Women and especially men often hold hands in public as a sign of friendship; this is commonly mistaken by outsiders as homosexuality. Women and men rarely show public affection towards the opposite sex, but are affectionate in private.

People haggle over anything that has to do with money, even if money is not an issue and the price has already been decided or is known. A mercurial demeanor is considered normal, and arguments are common, lively, and loud.

People of upper class or middle class are expected to treat those below them with a degree of impatience and contempt. When interacting with individuals of lower status or even of equal social rank, people tend to be candid about appearance, shortcomings, or disadvantages. Violence is rare, but once started, it often escalates rapidly into bloodshed and serious injury.


Religious beliefs

The official state religion is Catholicism, but over the past four decades Protestant missionary activity has reduced the proportion of people who identify as Catholic from more than 90 percent in 1960 to less than 70 percent in 2000.

Haiti is famous for its folk religion, known to its practitioners as “in the service of the lwa”, but referred to in literature and the outside world as vodoo (“vodoun”). This religious complex is a syncretic mix of African and Catholic beliefs, rituals and religious specialists, and its practitioners (“sèvitè”) remain members of a Catholic parish.

Long stereotyped by the outside world as “black magic,” Vodoun is actually a religion whose practitioners derive most of their income from healing the sick rather than attacking the victims.

Many people have rejected voodoo, becoming katolik fran (“unmixed Catholics” who do not combine Catholicism with service to the Lwa) or levanjil, (Protestant). The common claim that all Haitians practice voodoo in secret is inaccurate.

Catholics and Protestants generally believe in the existence of the lwa, but consider demons to be avoided rather than familiar spirits to be served. The percentage of those who explicitly serve the lwa family is unknown but probably high.

Religious professionals

Apart from the priests of the Catholic Church and thousands of Protestant ministers, many of them trained and supported by the evangelical missions of the United States, informal religious specialists proliferate.

The most notable are the voodoo specialists, known by various names in different regions (“houngan”, “bokò”, “gangan”) and called “manbo” in the case of female specialists (women are considered to have the same spiritual powers than men, although in practice there are more houngans than manbo).

There are also bush priests (“pè savann”) who read specific Catholic prayers at funerals and other ceremonial occasions, and hounsi, female initiates who serve as ceremonial attendants to the houngan or manbo.

Rituals and sacred places

People make pilgrimages to a number of holy places. These sites became popular in association with manifestations of particular saints and are marked by unusual geographical features such as the Saut d’Eau waterfall, the most famous of the holy sites.

Waterfalls and certain species of large trees are especially sacred because they are believed to be the homes of spirits and the conduits through which spirits enter the world of living human beings.

Death and the afterlife

Beliefs about life after death depend on the religion of the individual. Strict Catholics and Protestants believe in rewards or punishments after death.

Voodoo practitioners assume that the souls of all the deceased go to an abode “under the waters,” which is often associated with lafrik gine (“L’Afrique Guinée,” or Africa). The concepts of reward and punishment in the afterlife are foreign to Vodoun.

The moment of death is marked by ritual lamentations among relatives, friends, and neighbors. Funerals are important social events and involve several days of social interaction, including parties and the consumption of rum. Family members come from far away to sleep in the house, and friends and neighbors congregate in the courtyard.

The men play dominoes while the women cook. Usually within a week, but sometimes several years later, funerals are followed by the priè, nine nights of socializing and ritual. Funerary monuments and other funeral rituals are often expensive and elaborate.

People are increasingly reluctant to be buried underground, preferring to be buried above ground in a kav, an elaborate multi-chambered tomb that can cost more than the house the individual lived in while alive. Spending on funeral rituals has been increasing and has been interpreted as a leveling mechanism that redistributes resources in the rural economy.

Secular celebrations

Associated with the beginning of the religious season of Lent, Carnival is the most popular and active festival, with secular music, parades, street dancing, and heavy drinking.

The carnival is preceded by several days of bands of “rara”, traditional ensembles with large groups of specially dressed people who dance to the sound of vaccines (bamboo trumpets) and drums under the direction of a conductor who blows a whistle and brandishes a whip..

Other festivals include Independence Day (January 1), Bois Cayman Day (August 14, celebrating a legendary ceremony in which slaves plotted revolution in 1791), Flag Day (May 18), and the assassination of Dessalines, the first ruler of independent Haiti (October 17).

The arts and humanities

Arts support

The bankrupt government provides occasional token support for the arts, typically dance companies.


Haitian literature is primarily written in French. The elite has produced a number of internationally renowned writers, including Jean Price-Mars, Jacques Roumain, and Jacques-Stephen Alexis.

Graphic arts

Haitians have a predilection for decoration and bright colors. Wooden boats called kantè, secondhand American school buses called kamion, and small closed vans called taptap are decorated with brightly colored mosaics and bear personal names such as kris kapab (Christ Capable) and gras a dieu (Thank God).).

Haitian painting became popular in the 1940s, when a school of “primitive” artists encouraged by the Episcopal Church began in Port-au-Prince.

Since then a steady stream of talented lower-middle-class painters has emerged. However, it is the elite, university-educated painters and gallery owners who have benefited most from international recognition.

There is also a thriving industry of paintings, tapestries, and low-quality wood, stone, and metal crafts that supplies much of the art sold to tourists on other Caribbean islands.

Performing arts

There is a rich tradition of music and dance, but few performances are publicly funded.

Share the customs and traditions of Haiti.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button