Bonne Fête du Drapeau Ayisyen! Here's What You Need To Know About Haitian Flag Day
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bonne Fête du Drapeau Ayisyen! Here's What You Need To Know About Haitian Flag Day

Bernadette Giacomazzo
Bernadette Giacomazzo May 18, 2022

Happy Haitian Flag Day!

On May 18, 1803, the drapeau Ayisyen as we all know it today was formally adopted by the country of Haiti.

Used as a symbol of both ethnic pride and rising above the oppression of would-be colonizers from France, Haiti’s flag has origins that indicate the country’s seemingly innate ability to overcome even the most impossible of circumstances.

“During the Congress of Arcahaie in May 1803 military leaders representing divided segments of the society united their forces against the French colonial army. This union, sealed by Jean Jacques Dessalines, a former slave, and Alexandre Petion, a free colored man, paved the way for a victorious revolution that would lead to the only successful slave uprising in the world, and, eventually, to the birth of a Nation,” reports the Embassy to the Republic of Haiti. “At the Congress of Arcahaie, Dessalines ripped the white section out of the red, white, and blue French flag. The red and blue cloths were then sewn together by his goddaughter, Catherine Flon, to form the first blue and red flag of the Republic of Haiti.”

In short, Haitian Flag Day is a day to celebrate both the creation of the flag and the country’s independence. But what else is there to know about this special day for Haitians all over the diaspora?

When is Haitian Flag Day?

On May 18, 1803, the Haitian flag as we know it today was adopted by the island nation of Haiti — and, subsequently, by every member of the Haitian diaspora all over the world. The New York Times reports that it’s imperative to distinguish between Haitian Flag Day (which is celebrated on May 18) and Haitian Independence Day (which is celebrated on January 1).

Why is It Celebrated?

On the surface, Haitian Flag Day seems like just a day to celebrate the creation of the flag. But the reality runs a lot deeper than that.

Writing for The Boston Globe, Jeneé Osterheldt explains that Haitian Flag Day doesn’t just symbolize the beginning of the end for the island nation’s would-be oppressors, but serves as a symbol for Black independence all over the world. “As the world thrived off slavery, enslaved Black folk fought for their freedom in the West Indian French colony once known as Saint-Domingue. And won. Haiti rose,” she wrote. “On May 18, 1803, the Haitian flag was created to represent who they would be. The white band in the center of the French flag cut away. Freedom realized.”

Things To Do To Celebrate Haitian Flag Day

Haitian Flag Day is a perfect day to honor Haitian culture all over the world. Parades, ceremonies, and picnics are just a few of the many things you can do to celebrate your culture — or the culture of your favorite Haitian person. L’Union fait la Force, indeed!

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