Weddings – a universal celebration of love, togetherness, and commitment. But what makes each wedding unique are the rituals and customs woven into the event by different cultures around the globe.
Among these, Haitian wedding traditions are a fascinating blend of African, French, and indigenous Taino influences. Let’s delve into the top 15 traditions that make Haitian weddings a vibrant and culturally rich event.
In Haitian culture, before marriage, the couple will take a crucial step called “The Asking Hand.”
Traditionally, the groom’s family arranges a meeting with the bride’s family. This is not a simple casual visit, but a formal and polite request for starting the marriage. This also shows both family approval and blessings. Moreover, it’s a Haitian custom that strengthens the bond between the two families and ensures mutual respect and understanding.
During this meeting, the groom’s family presents gifts, usually including items of symbolic value, to the bride’s family. Normally, this includes a basket of fruits and food items or some family will bring gift bottles of rum or wine.
Once approved by the bride’s family, they will take place engagement ceremony, or “fiançailles”. This is a time the couple formally announces their intent to marry and strengthen their commitment to each other.
In this ceremony, the bride and groom exchange rings. Moreover, they will prepare a small party and invite close family members and friends to share in the happiness of the couple, offering them blessings for their future life together.
The bridal attire is often a mix of a little bit of tradition of Haitian culture. They usually wear makeup and dress in white or cream-colored. Moreover, the bride’s look is completed with a beautiful veil. Some brides will choose to add a headdress to make themselves more beautiful.
On the other hand, the groom dresses in a formal suit, showing grace and sophistication. Normally, they will choose ones that have black or navy blue colors to wear at their wedding.
Every Haitian wedding begins with the delightful tunes of traditional Haitian music. When starting the music, the bride will come in, following a young girl who will scatter flower petals along the path. This makes the wedding more romantic and blesses the bride’s new life.
At the wedding, the couple will stand in front of their loved ones, committing their lives to each other. These vows, usually led by a priest, show the couple’s commitment to love, honor, and respect for each other throughout their married life. This custom often follows the Roman Catholic tradition. Furthermore, this moment is the emotional highlight of the ceremony, bonding the couple in the sacred marriage.
6. Jumping the Broom
After exchanging their vows, the couple will participate in an African tradition known as “jumping the broom.” They hope the broom will sweep away from their past troubles, entering their new life together after doing this custom.
The Candle Ceremony is a beautiful part of Haitian wedding traditions. Normally, this ritual consists of two separate candles, each representing the bride and the groom’s individual lives before their marriage. The couple uses these candles to light a larger, central candle together, signifying their union.
In Haitian wedding receptions, showing its culinary brilliance. They will cook some traditional dishes such as Griot (marinated fried pork) and Diri Ak Pwa (rice and beans), which are often the stars of the menu. Guests at the wedding will experience a taste of Haiti’s rich and diverse flavors.
No Haitian wedding is complete without music, and more specifically, without a Rara band. This traditional band livens up the atmosphere with its rhythmic beats and lively tunes. So in this part, all guests will sing and dance, enjoying the unique rhythm of the wedding.
The cake-cutting ceremony is another crucial part of a Haitian wedding. Normally, it symbolizes the sweet journey the couple is embarking on. As the couple cuts the cake together, meaning their shared commitment and the sweet future they hope for. Following the cake cutting, the couple feeds each other a piece of cake, showing their promise to provide for each other in their new life.
Cremas, also known as Kremas or Cremasse, is a popular Haitian drink usually enjoyed during special occasions and holidays. Normally, you will see that it’s a thick, creamy drink with a light or beige color, looking a bit like a milkshake. So, you can combine it with sweet pastries, enjoying their perfect taste.
One important thing to note is that Cremas contain rum, so it’s only for adults. Moreover, the guests also are given Cremas as a memorable wedding favor.
The couple’s first dance symbolizes their journey together as husband and wife. They often move to the rhythm of a Haitian love song, creating a romantic wedding.
During the reception, guests present their presents to the couple. These gifts can be sentimental keepsakes, useful household items, or a thoughtful combination of both. However, it’s generally seen as inappropriate to give cash as a wedding gift to newlyweds in Haitian culture. In some cases, offering money may even be seen as completely disrespectful.
The money dance is a festive and generous Haitian wedding tradition. During this dance, guests pin money onto the couple’s clothing, making a joyful and interesting wedding.
The event concludes with a farewell come from their beloved one. Guests line up to send off the couple, showering them with blessings and good wishes. As the newlyweds leave amidst cheers and goodbyes, they enjoy their new journey, carrying with them the blessings of their loved ones.
Haitian wedding traditions are a beautiful blend of cultural influences, each contributing to the grandeur of the occasion. These ceremonies, rich in symbolism and rooted in heritage, make Haitian weddings a captivating celebration of love and unity.
- What are the unique customs at Haitian weddings?
In Haitian weddings, the roles of the matron or maid of honor and the best man go beyond traditional expectations. They often accompany the bride and groom down the aisle and sit alongside them during the ceremony.
They even have a hand in legal formalities, signing the marriage license. The couple must also choose witnesses who are part of signing the marriage license, underlining the community's role in their union.
- How long is the typical Haitian wedding?
The traditions embedded in Haitian wedding ceremonies have deep roots in the country's cultural heritage, reflecting the communal spirit of Haitians. A typical wedding could range from 3 hours to an entire day, adding to the overall festive atmosphere.
- What's the legal age for marriage in Haiti?
Regarding the legal framework for marriage in Haiti, the Civil Code 1982 establishes the minimum age of marriage at 15 years for females and 18 years for males. Despite these standards, the Haitian President can make exceptions for “serious reasons,” thereby demonstrating flexibility within the legal system.