It’s the time of year when the people of Haiti come together with joy and excitement for Carnival (Kanaval in Kreyol)! This year, Carnival will officially start on February 27th and end on March 1st. While the government has canceled festivities in Port-au-Prince, local cities will still be able to host their own events. Lucky for us, Jacmel has historically hosted one of the largest Carnival celebrations, secondary to Port-au-Prince. Many of the older Hands & Feet Project children will go into town with caregivers to participate in the daytime festivities.
Carnival is a celebration leading into Mardi Gras every year. It lasts several weeks, beginning with pre-celebrations in January, and ramping up in February. The festivities are funded by the government, businesses, and wealthy Haitian families.
Each year Carnival is celebrated with music, bands, and parades with floats. Sometimes children participate in leading the festivities, as well. There is also plenty of food to buy, including barbecued and sweet treats, a popular part of the festivities. There are comedy plays put on by participants who wear costumes and masks to entertain the crowds.
Music plays a BIG role in carnival celebrations. Musicians have an opportunity for significant exposure as they perform the music genre konpa. This is the largest annual event in Haiti that includes large concerts.
After Port-au-Prince, Jacmel tends to be a favorite city for attendees to experience the carnival because it’s celebrated with so much excitement and joy. Local artists make incredible costumes with papier-mache, an artisan trade central to Jacmel, which makes it an exciting time for local businesses in the artisan district.
This is a time when everyone comes together; people in diverse communities share in the joy and excitement. For a time, the pain in the world is lessened as communities come together to celebrate the beautiful culture of Haiti.