Updated: May 6, 2020
If you are Haitian and didn't have soup joumou on New Year's day, well are you really Haitian? That's right your Haitian card is revoked lol if you didn't enjoy a bowl of the delicious, hearty and healthy pumpkin/squash soup on New Year's day. The signature Haitian dish is more than just a soup however, and the meaning behind this tradition is so special and empowering. The tradition goes back to January 1, 1804, the date that Haiti declared it's independence from French colonizers and became the first independent nation in Latin America and the first independent black-led nation in the world, after a successful slave rebellion.
Reportedly, the slaves had to make the soup for the white masters but weren't allowed to drink it themselves. Presumably the slave owners considered soup joumou to be a delicacy, the crème-de-la-crème and sort of like the caviar of foods and was too good for the slaves to eat. After Haiti declared its independence on January 1, 1804, the newly freed slaves celebrated by drinking the very same soup joumou that they were forbidden to have. Therefore, not only is the soup truly delicious but it also represents a celebration of freedom. Drinking soup joumou on New Year's day also reinforces the belief that every human being should be treated with dignity and not be considered less than based on the color of his or her skin. As we enter this new decade, please be reminded that in 2020 and beyond you should not be deprived of the finer things in life just because of your race, creed, color and national origin. Being the first Black Republic in the world is so empowering, and Haitians all over the world on January 1st celebrate both the start of the New Year as well as Haiti's Independence Day.
Haitian families usually make the soup in a large pot so that there's enough to share with neighbors, friends and in Haiti just anyone passing by. I have eaten a lot of soup joumou in the past, and I can tell you that no two person makes it the same, even though the ingredients may be similar. The ultimate verdict however is that it's delicious and worth trying one day if you have the opportunity.