The staff at Cuba Business Report would like to spread the message of “Peace and Joy” this holiday season. In the past, it’s been our tradition to publish the best photographs we could find of Christmas trees in Havana. This year, we’ve found some nativity scenes on display at a couple of churches in the city.
The annual mass exodus of tourists escaping the cold winters of northern climes is even greater this year. More than one million Canadians have already graced the shores of the Pearl of the Antilles by the opening date of the tourist season in early November. Although the rules for American travelers are complicated, they too, are continuing to visit the Island.
This year has been an exciting one for Cubans. The Internet was launched on mobile phones and Cubans are going crazy with the novelty of instant contact with family and friends abroad. Pretty soon, someone’s going to have to mention “cell phone etiquette,” but novelties are like that. Remember when we got the ability to text?
Christmas in Cuba for ordinary Cubans is not the commercial affair it is in North America. The focus is family on Christmas Day. It’s a quiet day. A special meal is served depending on what food is available. For most Cubans it is not easy to find groceries conveniently all in one place. Buying food can be likened to a daily “hunt,” from one store to another. There’s usually no money left over for gift giving which makes this tradition of gift-giving very rare. Giving gifts is only possible if a family has money coming in from relatives abroad.
There will be rum, a little dancing and there will definitely be Cuban music. A Cuban described Christmas as,
“Here in Cuba for us Christmas is the time to spend with the family, eat pork, rice with beans, yucca, salads, tostones, sweets, drinks like rum and beer, and buy new clothes. That’s what it used to be, but all that is lost due to the economic problems.”
Four years ago, we only saw small Christmas trees in Cuba with a few lights and sparkly things adorning the branches. This year, we’re seeing more of them everywhere dazzling the hotel lobbies, some offices and homes.
In Cuba, the New Year’s eve celebration is bigger than Christmas. On New Year’s eve, the traditional pig roast takes place with friends and family.
This year, instead of publishing photos of Christmas trees springing up everywhere in Cuba, we’re bringing to you some of the nativity scenes we found in front of a church in Centro Habana and at the historical Cathedral in Old Havana.
We do not publish over the holiday season. In the New Year, we return and will continue to bring our readers the news of business developments and the economy of Cuba.
Wherever you spend your time this year, whether it’s on one of Cuba’s beautiful beaches, the streets of Havana or at home with family and friends, we wish you, “peace and joy.”
Feliz Navidad from the team at Cuba Business Report.