Haitian Heritage Month is not only a celebration of Haitian culture, it also has great historical significance based on the inherited traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation since Haiti’s independence in 1804.
Over the past few years, Haitians in New York, Florida, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Jersey have celebrated Haitian Heritage Month proudly with parades, conferences, festivals, exhibits, book fairs and the like. It’s a pride-filled month that carries out exciting events within the Haitian community and brings memorable souvenirs, including patriotic songs and the recollection of the history behind the creation of the Haitian Flag.
In Florida, Haitian Heritage Month is recognized and celebrated by the School Board of Miami Dade County and supported by the School Board of Broward County. The celebration in Miami includes the largest Haitian festival – Haitian Compas Festival, also known as KompaFest.
In Boston, the Annual Haitian American Unity Parade is held annually around May 18th, which is recognized by all Haitians as Haitian Flag Day. This parade features Haitian leaders, state and city officials, marching bands, delegations from schools, colleges and universities. Many youth groups, cultural, professional, and religious associations as well as, community, political and regional organizations and Haitian and American businesses also take part in the festivities.
In New York, there is a Haitian Day Parade that usually takes place on the last Sunday of May. Other patriotic and cultural activities are held in Chicago, Georgia, Texas, Philadelphia to acknowledge Haitian Heritage Month with pride and dignity in order to promote and share the Haitian culture.
While Haitians never need a reason to “stand-up” and “rep our flag”, this year, Haitian Heritage Month definitely comes at a time where perhaps people, including us Haitians, need to be reminded of WHO Haitians are and of our significant contributions to the world, both historically and in present times.
Notable dates in May for Haitian History and Culture
May 1st – Labor and Agricultural Day celebrated in Haiti as a public holiday.
May 2nd – Flowers’ Day During the Duvalier era, May 2nd was celebrated as Flowers’ Day. Many cultural activities were held in the capital’s bicentennial plaza, decorated with flowers and the blue and red colors of the Haitian flag. Well known artists and musical groups also took part in the annual celebration.
May 18th – Haitian Flag Day – In a pact signed by the Black and Mulatto officers at the May 1803 congress, the officers created the Haitian Flag on the last day of the congress, May 18, 1803. Bearing this newly created Haitian flag with pride, they fought and expelled the French army and thus Haiti became the first Black independent country in the world on January 1st, 1804.
May 20th – Toussaint L’Ouverture ‘s Birthday General Toussaint L’Ouverture, who was born on May 20, 1743, was the mastermind behind the Haitian Slave Revolution. He organized and led the slaves to victory against Spain, Great Britain and France.
Last Sunday of May – Haitian Mother’s Day In Haiti, Mothers’ Day is celebrated on the Last Sunday of May. On that day, Haitians honor their mothers by wearing a red flower for mothers that are living and a white or purple flower in remembrance of the mothers who have passed away.