New Year’s Celebrations in Cuba

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

Happy New Year. Foto: Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES — New Year’s is nearing and it feels as though the end of the world is upon us. Cubans scramble to buy as much food as their few or abundant savings allow them.

Yes: having a warm, tasty, longed-for meal is what makes the end of the year a true festivity.

The other thing people must have is a bottle of rum and a hearty round of greetings, which abound even among those who have gotten to know each other less over time, as a friend who suffered this in person says.

Resentment, intrigues and rivalries aren’t part of the New Year experience (though the occasional quarrel may arise after more than a few drinks).

People call friends and relatives whose existence they had forgotten in the 364 preceding days – everything is allowed and forgiven on New Year’s.

You also have to have music, joy and cheering everywhere. Not being happy is a sin, and one feels bad without a smile, for everyone says you have to be happy and you’re out of place if you aren’t.

It’s best to stay home and be by oneself (if possible, for it’s a tad complicated in Cuba) if one’s mood is beneath the established norm.

One must avoid upsetting those stung by New Year’s fever, a pandemic that afflicts everyone or nearly everyone.

I recall that, when I was a little girl and until my late adolescence, New Year’s was the time when we travelled to the countryside to visit our grandparents and gather with the thousands of cousins who live there, among a broad variety of dishes my grandparents prepared with an almost religious zeal.

Were we actually happy at the time? I think we were, or, at least, that’s how I want to remember the times. I believe that this had to do with the special circumstances my family and I were in.

For a long time, however, all of this New Year’s joy has seemed empty to me.

What is the point of staging this celebration the last week of the year when we have lacked so many essential things throughout the year?

One thought on “New Year’s Celebrations in Cuba

  • Stuff governments calendars, align with nature and celebrate the winter solstice, human contact optional,but love and happiness add to the celebration.

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