This month we’ve been learning about Haiti, and in particular Christmas treats from this beautiful but beleaguered country. We really loved the sweet potato pudding, so we were looking forward to trying pineapple nog, a wonderful kid-friendly holiday drink. The flavors are quite different than eggnog, but it has a similarly creamy consistency. It is traditionally served at Christmas time, but these tropical flavors would also be well suited for summertime.
Christmas in Haiti
But first we took a step back to learn about Haiti and how they celebrate Christmas there. For our character-building classes at home we’ve been focusing on courage, so we talked about how the people of Haiti have incredible courage. First, because they successfully waged one of the first revolutions in the Western Hemisphere, which was also the largest successful slave rebellion in modern times. Haitians today also demonstrate incredible courage in the face of widespread poverty and repeated natural disasters. (For information on charities that operate in Haiti, see the end of this post). For those that want to delve deeper, you can read about how in many ways Haiti’s current suffering stems from its incredible victory more than two centuries ago and the fear it invoked in Western powers.
But back to Christmas! Here is a wonderful first hand account of how Nwèl (Christmas) is joyfully celebrated in Haiti despite the lack of material wealth. One beloved tradition mentioned there are the Christmas fanals, paper lanterns made in the shape of houses, churches, or animals and lit with candles or Christmas lights. Celebrating with family and friends is at the heart of the festivities, and most families attend midnight mass together on Christmas Eve.
Afterwards it is back home for all night dinner parties called reveyons. Children often play woslè, which is similar to jacks. Before going to sleep, they make sure to leave out their shoes, filled with straw, which Tonton Nwèl (Santa Claus) will fill with presents.
Kid-Friendly Holiday Drink: Haitian Pineapple Nog
Adapted from Taste the Islands
While the cocktail kremas is very popular at Christmastime, a kid-friendly holiday drink is pineapple nog. It is light and creamy, with a blend of tropical flavors that all ages will enjoy. Plus, it literally takes 2 minutes to make! It honestly took me longer to write the recipe here than it did to actually make it.
The original recipe does not call for any sweetener, but for my crowd I knew I needed to sweeten it up a bit. (It is actually really refreshing just as it is, so try it before you add any sugar!) To keep it relatively healthy, I used a banana for much of the sweetener, which was great because it’s in keeping with the tropical flavors.
I also wanted to make it dairy free for my son, so instead of the traditional mix of coconut milk and regular milk, I used all coconut milk. If you prefer you can make the traditional version.
1 can of coconut milk
20 oz can of crushed pineapple
1 ripe banana
2 T sugar (optional)
sprinkle of nutmeg
Put all ingredients in blender and mix thoroughly. Delicious as is but even better chilled!
Makes 3 large servings or 4-5 small servings
What is your favorite kid=friendly holiday drink?
Organizations to Support in Haiti
There are many charities operating in Haiti. Here are two of my favorites:
Lidè: An educational initiative in rural Haiti that uses the arts and literacy to empower at-risk adolescent girls and help them transition into school or vocational training. Established by Author Holiday Reinhorn, Actor Rainn Wilson and Executive Director Dr. Kathryn Adams in response to the devastating earthquake of 2010, the Lidè program seeks to uplift women and girls who have been denied equal access to education.
New Horizon School, Mona Foundation: Recognized as one of the best in Haiti, New Horizon School is educating the next generation of graduates trained as agents of change in the sustainable development of Haiti through its focus on academic excellence, personal transformation through building moral capabilities and commitment to community service.
Welcome to our fourth annual Christmas in Different Lands series! This year each participating blogger will focus on a different country, sharing a traditional dish and more about Christmas in that country. For even more glimpses of global Christmas celebrations, see our series from previous years (2013, 2014, and 2015), plus follow our Christmas board on Pinterest!
Crafty Moms Share: Nigeria – Jollof Rice
Creative World of Varya: Lebanon
the piri-piri lexicon: Portugal – Sonhos
Pack-n-Go Girls: Austria – Vanillekipferl
Mom Hats and More: USA – Apple Streudel
Multicultural Baby: Paraguay – Sopa Paraguaya
La Clase de Sra. DuFault: Chile – Pan de Pascua
All Done Monkey: Haiti