December in Cuba: Times Are Changing

Jorge Milanes

Havana.  Photo: Tamara Vazquez

HAVANA TIMES – Christmas celebrations in Cuba have come to be defined by a family dinner, of turkey, chicken or fish (although the later has become very difficult to get a hold of recently).

Meanwhile, New Year celebrations include roasted pork, pork scratchings, beans and rice, cassava, fried plantain, seasonal salad, syrupy desserts and other dishes typical of each region.

Music is something else these celebrations can’t go without, where even neighbors come over for a dance, waiting for midnight. Wishing each other well, raising a toast for the new year and coming home to throw the traditional jug of water out onto the street and… get rid of all the bad things in our lives! Then, go around the block with a suitcase so they can get to go on a trip abroad or some other religious tradition.

This New Year’s, we haven’t abandoned these traditions, but it’s clear that our financial means have changed and this won’t allow us to make the traditional meal we normally have, because food items are too expensive and scarce.

Even though the government has set aside spaces for trade markets in towns, at relatively affordable prices, this is something that also gives rise to contradictory opinions. These go hand-in-hand with long lines of people who have no guarantee that they will be able to take what they want home, especially meat.

In my house, we always try to see in the New Year in the most traditional way possible, but this year we won’t have pork like in previous years, but chicken. There won’t be the abundance of years past either, although my neighbor was able to buy a pig in the countryside and already told me when he brought the animal back with a rope around its neck: “Don’t buy anything, we’ve got it all,” we shouldn’t get used to it.

Anyway, even if many people’s financial situation has been increasingly difficult, I wish you all health and strength to carry on. Happy New Year!

Jorge Milanes

Jorge Milanes: My name is Jorge Milanes Despaigne, and I’m a tourism promoter and public relations specialist. Forty-five years ago I was born in Cojimar, a small coastal town to the east of Havana. I very much enjoy trips and adventure; and now that I know a good bit about my own country, I’d like to learn more about other nations. I enjoy reading, singing, dancing, haute cuisine and talking with interesting people who offer wisdom and happiness.

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4 thoughts on “December in Cuba: Times Are Changing

  • I come often to few different places in Cuba for many different things a) simple stress free life b) true care c) nice wind and weater d) most natural, non gmo, food even if choices are limited. I did not come for 2019 yet but do sense that web is available in more places and with less difficulties. Like few others wrote, I also bring few extra suitcase of items for the casa I stay. Just as one individual I can’t think of what, how and when financial situation may change for the Island – that is beyond my thinking capacity. I just wish for something better to happen. One thing I am afraid of, corporations bringing wealth can create a loss of peace exist in Cuba very few places in the world exists.

  • My Cuban friends are telling me about the economic situation getting a lot worse this year , the shortages , price increases. I worry .. it must seem like the Special Times coming back again. I wish i could do more than just bring a loaded 2nd suitcase on my trips down. My heart aches for them.

  • We are not as poor as we seem Jorge if we look at others who are our equal. They to are no poorer than us, we all seek wealth, some have others don’t, but we do our best to make them feel as wish we could feel all the time what you did for your neighborhood proves just that and someday they will return the great holiday spirit as you have shown them now…
    Happy New year’s 2019

  • Happy New year george from us here in TORONTO canada
    I hope things will improve for you and all cubans

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