Haitian children, just like kids all over the world, love to laugh and play with their friends and family. While many of their playtime activities are similar to those enjoyed by children in the United States, some are more traditional and specific to the island itself.
Here’s a list of the best Haitian games for kids (though they’re really for anyone looking to have a little fun):
Football (American Soccer)
This is without a doubt the most popular sport played by Haitians. With one of the longest football traditions of any surrounding island nation, Haitian children and adults are known to play football on any available space, while television coverage of big matches are also a big hit.
As both an active hobby and a spectator sport, football is beloved by nearly every Haitian – both young and old alike.
In 1974, Haiti became the first Caribbean country to be featured in the World Cup finals, which is an incredible testimony to the country’s love and commitment to the game.
Dancing is a huge part of Haitian culture, as seen incorporated into their festivals and holidays to express and evoke emotion. Not only is Haitian dancing deeply connected to the local music, it’s also full of community, history, and storytelling. Despite cultural stereotypes that label dance as reserved for spiritual rituals, dancing has managed to embed itself into the lifeblood of the Haitian people.
Schoolyard games involving song and dance are quite common among children in Haiti, wherein participants form a large circle and join in traditional songs, clapping their hands in accompaniment. Those in the circle often dance to the beat, as well, moving in time and rhythm with the clap pattern created by their peers.
Warri uses 48 seeds on a rectangular board, with twelve receptacles or ‘houses’ arranged in six pairs along the entire length of said board. At the beginning of the game, four seeds are placed in each house. The objective is to capture the majority of the seeds; each has the same value, and the winner is the individual who captures more than half of the total number.
While adults typically play Warri on wooden boards, children aren’t afraid to dig in the dirt to play with makeshift boards on the ground. Also called Kay in some parts of Haiti, Warri has been enjoyed for generations and looks as though it will continue to be passed on to many more, as well.
Much like elsewhere, pick-up or organized basketball, partner clapping with songs, jumping rope, playing catch, thumb wars, musical chairs, tug o’ war, and much more are played in Haiti. Everything from card games to jacks, marbles, dominoes, checkers, hide-and-seek and hopscotch are played by Haitian boys and girls.
Whether playing indoors or outdoors, with a few or many others joining, Haitian children know how to have a good time even when playing simple, classic games. While they have less opportunity to hide behind TV or computer screens, that means they have a greater ability to get out, run around, and burn off energy. Kids in Haiti love to spend their free time having fun, and these games are a great way to do so.