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How do Cubans celebrate New Year’s Eve?

By Gelenny Cervantes (Cuban Musician and Business Development Specialist of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways

The great New Year celebration in Cuba is a very special party occasion for Cubans worldwide. It brings together entire families and friends ready to steep in folk traditions passed down for years from generation to generation. On these festive days, we can see the pure essence of the Cuban people in a very authentic way; their traditional food, customs, and preferred music, plus all the cultural and religious diversity that make up their rich culture.

Preparing the great New Year’s Eve feast is a ritual in which the whole family participates and represents the most authentic of our culinary culture: celebration, family, and tradition. The main traditional dishes are roast pork, yucca with Creole “Mojo,” “Congri,” salad, fried plantain, and of course, you cannot miss good rum, cold beer, wine, and perhaps some homemade Cuban Cocktails. Cubans roast a big piece of pork or an entire pig from the beginning of the day until the meat is well cooked, and the pork skin is crunchy. This tradition is probably the most popular thing to do on New Year’s Eve for Cubans, and most of the time is the center of the whole party.

Cubans need to have music so they can enjoy the other things at the party. Some family members even showcase their musical skills by playing guitar, piano, drums, or other instruments in a very cultural way. But, of course, music is always present, while silence and tv are not usually part of Cuban new year celebrations.

Upon the arrival of the new year, the most beautiful thing happens. Family, friends, and neighbors gather at their front doors or on the street to welcome the New Year. They hug each other and wish the best for their people. The sea of hugs won’t end until you share your love and gratitude with everybody, whether you are mad, sad, or even if you don’t know someone around you.

A year says goodbye, and with it, Cubans get rid of everything bad to start from scratch and achieve the greatest goals in the new year without the past affecting us. How? They usually practice traditional rituals like throwing water into the street or burning a homemade cloth doll when midnight strikes, representing the old year and its bad vibes that will be left behind to move into the new year with a new focus and good energy.

If Cubans want to travel next year, they take their suitcases and walk around the entire block, hug family, friends, and neighbors, sing, celebrate and make a toast for the moment’s happiness. They ask their gods for good, protection, and prosperity for their families, which is interesting to see in a country with a wide religious and cultural mosaic. Respect for the beliefs of others can be seen reflected quite strongly in collective Cuban celebrations.

Have you experienced a New Year’s Eve celebration in Cuba? Please share it in the comments; we would love to know your story.

If you haven’t had this experience yet, we can make that happen for you, maybe next year! Contact us and let us create the best Cuba Tour for you, including an authentic Cuban New Year’s Eve party.

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