Cubans know how to celebrate, and there’s no party without music, dance, rum, and lots of food. Here are some of our holiday traditions not to miss:
Christmas is all about family and close friends, but dinner is the most important part of the night, and there’s no Christmas spirit without a huge leg of pork, or as we call it: pata de puerco del 24. People either cook a leg or the whole animal, and the roasting always gets done by carbon or in the oven, a lengthy activity that starts early in the morning. Pork is accompanied by rice, beans, plantains, and dinner always ends with a dance. There’s no gifting tradition, and instead, the celebration focuses on the family gathering and food.
New Year´s Eve
We celebrate New Year’s Eve to leave behind the worst problems of the year and welcome a fresh new start...“y que venga lo bueno” as we like to say. The food is similar to what we enjoy for Christmas Eve: rice and beans, roasted pork, yucca with mojo, and plantains, and at midnight we toast with cider or champagne and we eat twelve grapes. What makes our New Year’s Eve celebration different is that after midnight we follow some rituals to clean the spirit for the new year. One of these traditions involves throwing buckets of water on the street to clean and remove bad influences. In some parts of the country, people burn huge dolls on the street to forget all the bad things that happened in the previous year.
Birthdays are not just a celebration for the person getting older. Cuba is synonym with companionship, so on birthdays, we receive family, friends, and relatives into our home for dancing, singing, piñatas, and clowns if it’s a child’s birthday. Birthday cake comes with a cream and guava filling, and it’s always ordered extra large to share it, neighbors and colleagues, the next day. When it comes to singing happy birthday, we take pride in singing it in as many languages as we possibly can.
Cuban weddings are a beautiful spectacle. Brides usually arrive at the Palace of Marriages in a convertible Cadillac wearing a traditional white dress. The civil ceremony is followed by a huge party, and you can’t miss the multi-layered wedding cake, which, as the saying goes, the higher it is, the more years of happiness the couple will enjoy. Gifts usually consist of money contributions towards the honeymoon, which lasts about a week.
Have you lived one of these moments? We’d love to see your photos!