The Carnival of Haiti (called “Mardi Gras” or “Kanaval” in Creole) is one of the most anticipated events in the country. This cultural event is generally held during the month of February, the day before Ash Wednesday, with celebrations in the capital city of Port-au-Prince as well as other major cities throughout Haiti.
Each year, Carnival has a specific theme. This year the theme was “Ayiti sou wout chanjman,” or “Haiti, on the road to change. ” The celebration lasts multiple days and people celebrate freely in the streets. The elaborate floats, the costumes, the music and dance, and the colors are a reflection of Haiti’s rich and beautiful culture.
During the festivities, many Haitians dress in traditional garments full of color or disguise themselves as characters from pop culture, such as the wandering Jew, the Chaloskas (depiction of the tyrannical policeman Charles Oscar Étienne), the Zel Matirins (dark angels), zombies or Loas (characters from voodoo). The Rara, a unique form of Haitian music, usually takes place on the last day of Carnival, ending the celebration.
Children love Carnival and enjoy participating in the fun. Schools plan special Carnival activities for the children, and this year children in the Restavek Freedom Child Advocacy program had the opportunity to join in the celebration! They made masks, danced and sang along with their friends, teachers and Advoates. They had so much fun! It was a fun way for the children forget their problems and have a good time.