Today Haiti Celebrates with a Soup Joumou
One of the most interesting Haitian custom on January 1st is the Soup Joumou (pumpkin soup) made with, of course, pumpkin and a long list of veggies and meat. Every family have their own recipe of soup joumou. It is a very complicated a long process. I remember my mom would wake up douvan jou before sunrise and start preparing her ingredients. By 7 or 8 am most households will have already cook their soup and the smell of firewood and pumpkin will be lingering in the air the entire day. This blog Haiti Chery provides with a nice recipe for soup joumou (for those interested). Soup joumou will be the only meal that will be cooked in all household for the entire day (if you have a problem with it you will starve on that day).
As a child, new year in Haiti was not my favorite day of the year. Families dress up their children to go around and wish a happy new year to the granmoun. I simply hated this whole thing. Don’t get me wrong I was not antisocial but I prefer not being forced to kiss people. Then again I was a child and my mother was probably teaching me good manners. These days, I think the main purpose was to create a sense of community and sharing. This soup will travel miles to be shared with a family member or a few steps to the next door neighbor. It was not so much about the soup and kissing old people in the end.
Most Haitians are probably unaware why they have this soup for independence day. I was clueless for a long time too. I heard that when Haiti was the very lucrative French colony of Saint Domingue, this soup was considered to be a delicacy and of course that would mean only white masters could indulge in it. Slaves were not allowed to. So when Haiti became independent the newly freed slaves could finally eat anything they wanted. And what do you know they stuffed themselves on pumpkin soup as symbol of freedom! Revenge in this case was best served hot.
Happy New Year to all and Happy Independence day to my Haiti Cherie