Vertières Day

In Haiti, the 18th of November is celebrated every year as Vertières Day. Also known as the Battle of Vertières Day, this holiday commemorates the victory that Haitians achieved over the French during the conflict in 1803.

This was the last major battle of the Haitian Revolution, and it made Haiti the first nation in the world to gain its independence through a slave revolt. Before the 1990s, November 18th was also observed as Armed Forces Day in Haiti, but the Haitian Army was disbanded by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the early 1990s, rendering this holiday obsolete.

The History of Vertières Day in Haiti

During the 17th century, France established a colony on Hispaniola and set up numerous coffee and sugar plantations. To maintain the operations of these plantations, the French required a large number of African slaves.

Slaves had to work under horrible conditions and suffered very cruel treatment, in addition to being deprived of their self-determination and freedom. The slaves on Hispaniola eventually revolted during the late 18th century, leading to the Haitian Revolution.

On November 18th, 1803, former slaves led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines came into conflict with Napoleon’s expeditionary forces under General Rochambeau. This was the first major defeat of Napoleon’s army since he had come to power and resulted in France having to withdraw its remaining 7,000 soldiers from the island.

The French defeat proved disastrous for Napoleon and was extremely costly. It caused Napoleon to abandon his dream of a North American empire, and the war effort was costly for France. Napoleon eventually had to sell “New France” to the U.S. for $15 million in the Louisiana Purchase.

Observing Vertières Day in Haiti

This holiday is observed with special services and provides the public with a much-needed day off. It is also a day when government offices, schools, and businesses close. Many people use the day to enjoy a meal with their loved ones. These meals can include dishes such as Poulet Aux Noix (Cashew Nut Chicken), Griyo (Fried Pork), and Lanbi an Sòs Lanbi Kreyol (Conch in Creole Sauce).

Where is it celebrated?
Haiti (National/legal holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
November 18 Monday
Next year (2025)
November 18 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
November 18 Saturday