Happy New Year! to all our readers! 2012 has come! I (Dana) am writing from Pittsburgh where Prit and I were invited to attend a fundraiser for Haiti. The goal was to raise money to help dig wells all over Haiti with the purpose of providing clean water. The culmination of the meeting was to ring in the new year with awesome praise and worship. If you’re interested in more information, you can visit resolutionhope.org
In Haiti, our church members (as is the custom) entered the new year on their knees in prayer. New Year’s Eve is always spent giving thanks to God for all His blessings and imploring Him for new mercies to accompany the future. As well as looking forward, however, January 1st is also spent in reflection of a more oppressive and dark era of Haiti’s history. A time-honored tradition, embraced by the Haitian people as a whole, is to consume pumpkin soup on New Year’s day to celebrate their freedom from the tyranny of slavery. Haitian tradition maintains that when Haiti was a French colony, the slaves were obliged to prepare pumpkin soup for their French masters on New Year’s day. The slaves prepared it, but never were allowed to partake of it. Today, they celebrate their independence by preparing their own soup and eating it too. It is not a simple pumpkin broth. That would never do. Soup joumou is carefully prepared with potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, beef, and sometimes macaroni. The heavy-laden soup (not a scanty one) speaks of abundance as opposed to lack. Our washlady/cook (Marie) informed me that, prepared any other way, it would be incomplete. Pumpkin soup on New Year’s day is what turkey is to Americans on Thanksgiving. We (nor they) would have it any other way! C’est délicieux!
This is a great way to get educated with the customs of a mission field that we support and visit but are not entirely acquainted with. Cross-cultrual ministry is so important in terms of broadening the horizons of the church. It is an enriching experience for both those who visit the mission field and those who are serving on the field. It is great to hear about what the Haitian people are doing at this time of year and gain some insight into their traditions and their derivation.