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X-Mas and New Year 2003

By Rick


Christmas in Cuba this year passed with little more observance than the tiny plastic Xmas tree for me in Guantanamo. Some did attend church as usual but there was none of the comercialization that we have been accustomed to here in North America and Europe. There is always a shrine to El Cobre, the patron saint of Cuba, in the house. Offerings are made for Christmas. From the picture below you can see it was offered one of my Mayabe beers to secure blessing for the coming year. If you look closely, it's also wearing one of the Canadian pins that I had brought on a previous trip.

I brought a string of Xmas lights that they gladly strung around the livingroom. I said "No! NO! It's the Canadian way to string the lights on the outside of the house!"
They replied "If we string the lights on the outside of the house then people will steal them...that's the Cuban way! "
New Year's Eve was the great party!!! Everyone was also to wear an article of new clothes in order to start the new year out properly.

Most of the family and friends gathered for the celebration which included the roast pig (I don't think he enjoyed it as much as we did! ) dinner, Cuban wine and Spanish champagne for midnight. One of those Cuban cakes, which are heavy on the icing, was also brought in. Everyone contributed something so I brought out my duty-free Canadian whiskey which everyone really enjoyed . They also drank bottles of beer that meant for Cuban consumption only and I was not permitted to try any so I stuck to my Cristal and Mayabe.

Actually, it was two days before New Year's Eve that the neighbourhood started celebrating the coming of New Year's Eve early and the more talented ones brought out drums and were very entertaining. Other people would come by and added to this with some excellent dancing on the porches.

The people with the larger stereos brought them outside as well to entertain everyone on the block... whether you wanted them to or not !!! These street "celebrations" went on into the early morning hours and there was only a small opportunity for me to sleep before the street venders started their morning routes shouting "Eggs! I have fresh eggs!!!" or "Tomatoes!!! Cucumbers!!! To make your salads!!!". This went on until the 3rd of January when people finally decided to let the party end and I could finally get some sleep before the morning street venders arrived plying their wares ... "Bread!!! I have Bread!!!"


















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