1 April 2021
An Easter day in the life of… PiFò Haiti
We know that this year Easter might look a little different to usual and we aren’t able to travel far to celebrate but, we invite you to instead come with us on a virtual Easter journey. Over the next few weeks we will be stepping into the shoes of some of our ministry partners as they celebrate Easter. Prepare to discover new sights, tastes and traditions.
Today we spend Easter with our ministry partners PiFò Haiti who support local students and staff on the island of La Gonâve, just off the Haiti mainland. Find out why this year’s celebrations are more important than ever. For now ‘Jwaye Pak’ (Happy Easter) and enjoy the journey!
A colourful start
Haitians look forward to Easter each year with great anticipation. On Good Friday it is assumed there will be no harsh discipline or punishment, (no wonder the kids all look forward to this day, there are no chores to do!) it’s a day off in celebration. Many adults help their children to make homemade kites. Some communities even have competitions to see whose is the most beautifully decorated.
As Easter day unfolds the celebrations begin at first light.
"For Christians, Easter is spent with friends, family and neighbours talking about stories of Jesus' death and resurrection. We wake up very early, while it’s still dark and we walk in quiet solitude down to the water. It’s here that we will sing and celebrate all that Jesus did for us on the cross.
My favourite part is when everyone is cooking together and sharing stories of what Jesus means to them. When we cook and eat together it is an opportunity for us to love and care for each other. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have food to bring. Those who can, will provide, but it is never a requirement. We believe it’s very important to take care of our community. We are all family together. " – Emerson Dalmas, PiFò Haiti Project Manager
A taste of Easter
The task of preparing the Easter meal in Haiti is never accomplished alone either. Spending time cooking together as friends, family and neighbours is sacred. There is much conversation and singing over open charcoal fires during the course of the weekend.
In the Christian community, the most popular dishes served are rice cooked with white beans, beetroot and fresh fish (pwason gwo sèl). Families do not serve red meat during Easter weekend in respect of Jesus' blood shed on the cross.
A step back in time
The importance of Easter time for the wider Haitian population is also rooted in their history. Over 200 years, slaves in Haiti were not permitted to celebrate any of their religious traditions.
They instead changed their celebration dates to match those of the Catholic plantation owners, enabling them to celebrate their own religion without people knowing. Their owners believed they were taking part in the Catholic religious events when in fact they were celebrating their own beliefs. Eventually, because the two religions were observed at the same time Vodou was created – a combination of some of the Catholic and African rituals.
The only time slaves were permitted to leave the plantations was to attend church services for Easter. Since they didn’t all speak the same language Rara music became a source of connection for the slaves and enabled them to celebrate together as one people. A form of music which uses Banbous instruments - hollowed out bamboo tubes which are cut to all different lengths to create different tones when blown into. Now, in Haiti each Easter, Rara is seen as a celebration of the independence of the Haitian people, so as you travel around you will hear music filling the streets.
Hope in the cross
After a year over Covid-19 restricting many areas of life, and violence in the capital of Haiti increasing, this year Easter feels more important than ever:
“What I look forward to the most at Easter is when we go into the mountains to spend time with our relatives. We get to play with our cousins and eat lots of food. It’s a very important holiday for us this year because it represents some hope. Right now, our country needs to feel hopeful, and we know that it is only God that can give it to us.” -PiFò Haiti High School Student
This Easter we give thanks that wherever we are in the world, whatever our situation the hope we have in the cross remains, and pray for PiFò Haiti as they share the good news of Gospel through all they do. Find out more about life in Haiti and their ministry here.