At Midnight on January 1, 2016, Ambassador Paul Altidor kicked off the New Year celebrating Haiti’s 212th year of Independence with nearly 300 guests at the Embassy. It was an occasion to celebrate Haiti’s freedom and coming into statehood.
The memorable evening began with cocktails and Haitian hors d’oeuvres in the lobby followed by a mini concert featuring World Music Songstress, Ada Ayiti. After the concert guests were welcomed into the main ballroom of the Embassy to ring the New Year and celebrate 212 years of Haiti’s Independence with a special toast by Ambassador Altidor.
As the Embassy commemorated the historic event with members of the community, attendees also enjoyed a DJ set by DJ Franckie Mix-A-lot, sang along to the Haitian National Anthem, “La Dessalinienne”, and sipped “Soup Joumou” prepared by Haitian Chef Stephan Berrouet Durand. The night was an island style celebration infused with food and music from Haiti.
Serving and eating “Soup Joumou” on Haiti’s Independence Day is an integral part of the celebration. During the colonization period in Haiti, only the French masters could eat this soup for good fortune, forbidding the slaves from eating it. On January 1, 1804, to celebrate freedom and express victory, Emperor Jean Jacques Dessalines asked his wife, Marie Claire Heureuse Felicite Bonheur Dessalines, to cook and offer the soup to the former slaves as a message to the defeated masters.
January 1, 1804, Haiti made history by being the first black republic in the world and the first country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery. The first two days of the calendar year is dedicated to commemorate the Independence Day and celebrate Ancestors’ Day. Remembering the Founders of Haiti and the individuals who sacrificed their lives during the fight for independence. The universal need to be free by breaking out their chains and claiming their human rights.
“Pour le Pays, pour les Ancêtres. Marchons unis, marchons unis…” La Dessalinienne