If you have decided to visit Cuba next December, here are some curiosities about Christmas on the island. Christmas in Cuba is a family oriented holiday, gifts are not as important as spending time together.
Christmas Eve is called “Nochebuena” ( being the night Jesus was born it was called a “good night”) and it is when families eat the most important dinner celebrating together.
The traditional main dish is pork roast (some families like to roast a whole pig) normally served with fried bananas (platanos), rice and vegetables. Pork is also used to cook the skin which becomes crunchy with the most incredible and indescribably delicious taste and texture. The crunchy leather bites are called chicharrones. It is one of the salient specialties of a Cuban Christmas.
The dessert is often rice pudding or the sweet potato pudding boniatillo, the coconut cake, the very famous guayaba dessert and never miss a piece of nougat that generally comes from Spain: Yema? Alicante? Jijona? Marzipan? Coconut? Everyone has their favorite.
In the town of Remedios (near Santa Clara), a big party and parade called “Las Parrandas” is celebrated on Christmas Eve.
This deep-rooted tradition was born around 1820 from the initiative of the priest Francisco Vigil de Quiñónez, who invited a group of children to help him wake up the locals by making a great noise in the streets, because to attend the traditional Christmas Masses.
From this has evolved the tradition of going out on the street and making a ruckus at Christmas time and, although it has deviated from the religious sense, it is a celebration that prevails despite the weather; gradually replacing the whistles, rattles and jars full of stones that children used for music with fireworks, floats and many other surprises.
Currently the party begins in the morning with a pilgrimage from the Parrandas Museum to the local cemetery, where illustrious revelers who have already disappeared are paid tribute, during a tour where government authorities, professionals, musicians and people of all ages join together to ask symbolically for the dead to accompany them to the great party they will hold the night.
Around 5 in the afternoon the melodies of the party begin to play, in which the sounds of trumpets and paila predominate; a sound that gets full around 10 pm when the neighborhoods take to the streets.
Silence returns to the streets at midnight, giving the possibility to celebrate the Mass on Christmas Eve called Misa del Gallo, this expression is due to the fact that the ancient Romans brought back the Canto del Gallo at the beginning of the day, right at midnight.
After the mass the party continues and we start again to savor the folklore of Cuba.
We have been in Cuba for 20 years and deeply know the destination by designing the perfect tour for each one, modeled on your passions and tastes.