Christmas in Haiti

In Haiti, at the beginning of December, people start looking for Christmas Trees. They might cut pine branches or go to the market and get trees brought from the mountains. The trees are decorated with bright ornaments. At the bottom of the tree is a large nativity scene. Sometimes the trees and scenes take up a lot of the living room! Churches and other organisations also have trees on display. Artificial trees are also more common as they last longer!

People also fix and redecorate their homes ready for Christmas.

In Haiti Happy/Merry Christmas in Creole/Hatian is 'Jwaye Nowel'. French is also commonly spoken in Haiti where it is 'Joyeux Noël'. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

On Christmas Eve, children place their newly cleaned shoes, filled with straw under the tree on the porch. They hope that Santa (called 'Tonton Nwèl') will remove the straw and put presents in and around the shoes!

Often, lots of houses in neighborhoods are open with all lights on until about 3.00am! Children are normally allowed to go out and often the parents don't know were they are in the early morning - the older children are expected to look after the younger ones! And children of all ages are also allowed to drink 'Anisette', which is a slightly alcoholic drink that's made by soaking 'anise' leaves (the spice where star anise comes from) in rum and sweetening it with sugar.

Some people go to a Midnight Mass church service, or you might go out carol singing. After the Mass, people come home and eat the main meal called 'reveillon' (it's a French term meaning 'to wake up' and is what the main meal is also called in France). The meal normally starts in the early hours of Christmas morning and lasts until the dawn!

Christmas Day is much quieter with people sleeping off the celebrations of the night before! However, there will be more eating and playing with the toys from Tonton Nwèl.

In 2010 Haiti suffered from a huge earthquake that made many people homeless, so lots of people can't celebrate Christmas like they used to. Many charities like Compassion work in Haiti to help people. Find out more about Haiti on the Compassion website (goes to another site).