South Florida Haitian community celebrates Haiti’s Independence Day with Soup Joumou

Haitian-Americans gathered in North Miami Saturday to celebrate Haiti’s Independence Day at the third annual Soup Joumou celebration.

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. – Several big names in South Florida are gathering Saturday to celebrate the start of 2022 and Haiti’s Independence Day with members of the Haitian community.

It’s all part of the third annual Soup Joumou celebration.

Local 10 anchor Calvin Hughes hosted the event at the Moca Plaza in North Miami, which kicked off in the morning.

While there were several speakers at the event, including Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, the star of the event was the fresh pots of the hearty and rich soup joumou, which is basically a form of pumpkin soup.

For those who are unfamiliar with soup joumou, it’s a very special and meaningful dish in Haiti, dating back over 200 years to when the country successfully revolted against slavery and proclaimed its independence from France.

Prior to that revolution, joumou was considered a delicacy and slaves there were forbidden from eating it.

So on Jan. 1, 1804, the day the country declared its independence, revolutionary leaders decided the very first thing they would do would be a symbolic gesture –- eating the soup that was once forbidden to them.

That tradition carried on through the years, even until today.

“Soup joumou is extremely important to our community because when we gained our independence, it was the first dish that we made,” said Patricia Levasseur, who helped organize the event and is an aide to Councilwoman Mary Estime-Irvin. “It has all the things we weren’t allowed to have in the past … so every year, traditionally, we have it as a community. It’s the first thing we eat in the morning, it’s the first thing we eat all day. We don’t eat anything else practically but the soup.”

The soup from Saturday’s event was prepared by Chef Sandra from Memorable Moments Catering.


About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.