The best you ever tasted.
Made by the Cat who slices up the pumpkin.
Made by the Squirrel who stirs in the water.
Made by the Duck who scoops up a pipkin of salt, and tips in just enough."
This is a quote from my very favorite autumn-themed children's book, Pumpkin Soup, by Helen Cooper. It's about friends who learn a lesson about teamwork and living peacefully together. When they do work well together, the result is amazing: the best pumpkin soup ever.
For years, my mouth has watered as I've read this book to my daughters. Until recently, I had never had the chance to try pumpkin soup. But now, I can say I have! And it was the best I'd ever tasted.
Long ago, when the French controlled Haiti, they had a law that said only members of the upper class could eat soup, and apparently, this rule applied especially on New Year’s Day. Then, in 1804, when Haiti became an independent country, Haitians started to eat soup. I have been told that it was a way to demonstrate that everyone was equal. To this day, it’s a widespread custom to eat soup on Independence Day in Haiti. And, it’s not just any soup--it’s Pumpkin Soup.
We had the honor of joining the Joseph family in their home for soup on New Year's Day. Over the five months that we have lived in Haiti, our friend, Junias, and his family have become more and more dear to us. Junias talks to us openly about Haiti's culture, customs and lifestyle. He welcomes conversations about faith and beliefs, and he has even shared his hopes and dreams for the future. We are so thankful to call him and his brother, sister, and parents our friends.
Junias said the soup that day was too spicy. But, we enjoyed every spoonful!
Since New Year's Day, I've been eager to learn more about Haiti's history. Here's a nuts-and-bolts account of what I've learned so far about Haiti's Independence Day...
The Haitian Revolution, which lasted for more than a decade, was a slave revolt in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic. The Haitian Revolution was the only slave revolt which led to the founding of a state. It was one of only two revolts in history (the American Revolution was the other one) to achieve permanent independence from a European colonial power before the 19th century.
Wikipedia says "it is generally considered the most successful slave rebellion ever to have occurred in the Americas and is a defining moment in the history of Africans in the New World."
The last battle of the Haitian Revolution, the Battle of Vertières, occurred on November 18, 1803, near Cap-Haïtien, which is the city I now live near.
On January 1, 1804, Haiti was declared a free republic (yay!). This declaration was followed by a complete massacre of all white people who still lived on the island (yikes!).
Thank goodness that 200-some years later we were welcomed here in peace and generosity on New Year's Day!
As I go about my days, I often wonder what Haiti would be like today if there had been no slavery... If the fighting for control of this island could have been resolved without so much bloodshed...
It's too bad they couldn't make up with each other like the cat, the squirrel, and the duck in Helen Cooper's book.
1 Peter 3:8-9
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."