Cuban Traditions

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Traditions are strongly influenced by the fact that the Cuban population is a mix of different etnic origins. The long time occupation the island by the Spanish colonizers, the massive import of African slaves, influences from the nearby United States made from the country a melting pot of races, cultures and traditions.

Cuban Holiday Traditions

Cuba was longtime an Atheist country but in 1997 Christmas was restored as traditional holiday, during the visit of Pope John Paul II. The Christmas celebrations are for many Cubans a family feast, the emphasis is on the joy and gathering with the family.
On Noche Buena, Christmas Eve, family and friends gather together and have a traditional Christmas feast with roasted pig, black beans and rice, (Moros y Cristianos) fried plantains, yuca and desserts like Arroz con leche (rice pudding), or rum cake.

Traditional Cuban Clothing

In the local traditions a young girl is regarded as a woman at the age of fifteen. The "Quinze Fiesta" or the 15th Birthday Party is an important day in the life of a young Cuban girl, it's the parting from her childhood and her entry in the adult world.
Citizens who can afford it, sometimes after years of saving, rent special 'traditional clothing' to dress the their daughter like a "mini bride" and have a party and a birthday cake
Read more Traditional Cuban clothing

Food Traditions

Traditional Cuban cuisine is a combination of Spanish, African and Creole cuisines. The typical meal consists of rice and beans (arroz y frijoles) sometimes cooked together and named "Moros y Cristianos".
Another traditional food recipe is "Ropa Vieja" (old clothes). This is a kind of stew made with schredded beef simmered in a sauce of tomato and vegtables.

Wedding Traditions

A wedding, in any country, is usually considered a major affair. Often, a great deal of money is spent on the ceremony and reception, and other events like showers, luncheons, and rehearsals. Of course, a wedding is a special occasion.
In countries like Cuba, nothing is spared on the Wedding. Just like many other celebrations on the island, weddings are turned into a festivity. A marriage is an exciting event for the bride, the groom, the attendants, and all of the guests too.

The ceremony itself, in Cuba, is actually quite understated, because of the laws and regulations of the country, which is still communist, wedding ceremonies are not a religious event. Instead, the Cuban marriage is considered civil. Since the celebration does not happen during the ceremony, the festivities happen both before and after.

Generally, a parade or procession of guests, family, and members of the wedding party takes place on the way to the venue. Often, music, dancing, and plenty of excitement come along with this procession. In fact, it has been noted that, in Cuba, just attending a wedding costs quite a bit of money!

Cuban Wedding Dresses

The wedding attire for the ceremony is generally as equally extravagant as the festivities, for the bride that is.
Local wedding dresses traditionally tend to be made from fine silk or satin, and often include full skirts and ruffles.
Often, the more extravagant the dress is the better.
However, in more recent times, the Cuban traditions, have been somewhat influenced by the United States. It is not uncommon for a wedding dress on the island to have a more beach style appearance, made from linen or cotton and in a more flowing or understated style. This style of wedding dress is usually favored by women from other countries who choose to wed on the beaches on the island.
For men, the wedding attire is fairly basic. It is most common for a man in Cuba to choose a Guayabera shirt. These shirts, a tradition of many Latin American countries, include light linen fabrics, button down designs, and lines of tiny pleats that run vertically between the front pockets. In the Cuban traditions, the Guayabera is called the Mexican wedding shirt.

The Celebration and Party

As mentioned, everyone is involved in the event when a couple marries. Most of the time, the guests will take part in the event by celebrating along with the couple on their way to the church. In essence, the Cuban wedding party consists of more than just the couple, bridesmaids and groomsmen.
The wedding party includes everyone who attends the event. After the wedding, the festivities generally kick into high gear. Often, the reception or party will last for hours as guests enjoy upbeat music, extravagant meals, and a great deal of dancing.

Cuban wedding traditions and authenticity is held in high regard throughout the whole event, and it can be seen clearly at the reception. One tradition that is very important for the wedding is the money dance. During this event, while the music plays, the bride and groom dance together. Guests then pin money to the bride’s dress. This money is considered a gift for the couple as they start their married life.
Another of the wedding traditions comes in the form of gifts. While it is expected for guests to bring gifts for the bride and groom, in the form of items or money, it is also tradition for the bride and groom to provide a gift to each guest. Many wedding couples present their guests with such gifts or favors as handmade items or ribbons with the name of the couple. At more extravagant weddings, the guests are presented with a traditionalcigar to celebrate the occasion.

Wedding Decorations

Because the island is home to many types of exotic flora, the wedding decorations generally include flowers that are vibrant and bold. If the wedding is to take place on the beach, which is a common choice, the ceremony will often include rustic yet bright décor.
Tulle or ribbons may be tied around palm trees and the ceremony itself may take place under a traditional hut or out in the open on the beach sand. Depending on the style of the Cuba weddings, the decorations can vary, but bright and bold is almost always a continued theme.

While it is well known that the island has been a place of contention throughout the years, it is also a place of celebration.
Despite troubles, the Cuban people know how to take part in joyous festivities. This can be most reflected in the traditions.

Afro Cubans and Traditions

The African slaves imported by the Spaniards, brought their African religions and traditions to Cuba. Today are among the population several practitioners of the Afro Cuban religions.

Havana Carnival

A tradition dating from the times of the slavery and held each year at the end of July along the Havana Malecon. Read more Festivals Christmas tree havana cuba

Christmas
History of the Holiday

From 1969 until 2007, the holiday of Christmas was banned from the country. This was a rule set forth by Fidel Castro and held ground for more than three decades.
However, prior to 1969, the celebration of Christmas on the island was an elaborate event.
In fact, it lasted much longer than the traditional Eve and Christmas Day.

Mingling a combination of Latin music and culture, the celebration of Christmas prior to the reign of Castro involved a two-week long festivity. On December 24, Christmas Eve, it was tradition to begin celebration with an extravagant feast. Whole families, and sometimes, whole neighborhoods, would gather together for the feast, and the celebration would last throughout the day. The festivities would be highlighted with boisterous Latin style rhythms, usually referred to as Danzon Music. On Christmas Day, the festivity would continue, but activities would switch from dining and bright music, to a religious ceremony. A traditional procession of friends and family would gather to put a model of the newborn Christ in a manger. The rest of the day would involve celebration with family.

Finally, a few weeks after December 25, the end of the celebration would come in the form of another symbolic ritual. On January 6, Children would be given three gifts to represent the three gifts of the Magi.

Cuban Christmas Dinner

As with every other part of the holiday, the Christmas food is based on the Latin heritage of the island and its people.
Christmas recipes are quite different from what people in the United States may consider traditional Christmas food, but for the people of this island, these foods are truly the tradition.

The main course of the meal is often a roasted pig, which is cooked outside over a pit for many hours.
Side dishes will often include traditional dishes of the area such as plantains, black beans and rice, and Cuban bread. Desserts are an important part of the Christmas traditions, and there are numerous types of sweet items that are often served.
Christmas recipes for specialty sugar cookies and flan are often baked and served. Other dessert items may include puddings and rum cakes. Christmas traditions have long been overpowered by the total rule of a communist government.
In fact, even today, you would rarely see a Christmas Tree or twinkling lights. Many of the religious elements of the holiday were long banned as well. However, in the last few years, since the ban on the holiday has been lifted, more and more people have begun to move back to the Cuban Christmas of decades past.
Of course, as with any real celebration on the island, a feast includes Latin music, large meals, and an emphasis on family.


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