Located 90 miles south of Florida, Cuba is a melting pot of ethnicities, cultures and traditions. Cuba gains its cultural diversity from its history of Spanish occupation, African slaves and influences from the nearby United States. Cuban culture is known for its love of music, traditional foods and gatherings of friends and family. There are many Cuban party customs that span traditional holidays and celebrations.
Christmas Party Customs
Cubans celebrate Christmas, starting with a traditional celebration beginning on Christmas Eve. It is customary for men and women of the family to begin preparations at 5 or 6 a.m. for a traditional pig roast. The women prepare the pig while the men build or purchase a caja china, or pit in which to roast the pig. The women will also prepare traditional foods such as black beans, rice and fried plantains or yucca. They will also make traditional desserts such as arroz con leche, also known as rice pudding, and rum cake. The family feasts and celebrates late into the night.
New Year's Party Customs
If you are invited to a Cuban New Year's Eve party, you are likely to engage in the traditional custom of drinking sidra, an alcoholic cider that is served at the stroke of midnight. Guests at a Cuban New Year's Eve party will also receive 12 grapes. At midnight, each guest will eat the grapes, one at a time, and express a wish for the new year as they eat each grape.
Birthday Party Customs
Cuban birthdays are customarily celebrated with a large group of family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. If it is a child's birthday, guests are invited even if they do not have children. Other Cuban birthday party customs include traditional food, music and piñatas. From there, Cuban birthday parties resemble American birthday parties, complete with cakes, games and decorations.
Wedding Reception Customs
Cuban wedding reception customs begin with the wedding party and guests starting a procession that begins at the church and ends at the reception venue. Traditional Cuban music and dancing are part of the wedding procession. Once they arrive at the venue, it is customary for guests to pin money to the bride's dress throughout the party. This money is a gift for the couple as they begin their new life together. Like favors at an American wedding, the couple will give small, handmade gifts or Cuban cigars in thanks to the guests.
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