Afro-Cuban Three Kings Day

Photo feature by Elio Delgado

HAVANA TIMES, Jan 7 — “Three King’s Day” is a religious tradition which is held every January 6 in many parts of the world. According to legend, the Magi (the three wise men) came to bring gifts the night before Jesus was born.

This is why, on this day, children receive the gifts that are left for them at the foot of a Christmas tree or under their bed on Christmas morning.

Slaves brought to Cuba by the Spanish took advantage of this tradition to clandestinely integrate their own orishas (saints), songs, dances and drumbeats.

Each owner of these slaves dressed them in their finest clothes and displayed them as their personal property. The slaves would then parade through the streets of Havana while the whites would toss them coins, which they collected and saved to buy their freedom.

Today the tradition has a rebirth, but now with the participation of all Cubans – led by those of African descent.

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2 thoughts on “Afro-Cuban Three Kings Day

  • Maria, “white cubans” are referred to as European or Euro-Cuban or White Cuban, and so on. I’ve seen “White Cuban” the most in research and in conversation.

    Afro-Cuban is necessary because they have a specific culture that is uniquely of African origin – one that has been adopted to varying degrees by the White Cuban population. Still, it is the culture of the Black Cuban population, it is of their creation and origin and it is that segment of the population who remains at its healm and is the most active in its preservation.

    Just because we live in the same country or have the same nationality – it does not mean we have the same micro-culture and history.

    To distinguish, the term Black Cuban or Afro-Cuban is appropriately used.

  • Why do people, even Cubans, refer to black Cubans as “afro-Cuban”? Are you not all (white, mulatto, black) Cubans? Blacks were forced in from African and whites sailed over from Spain. Yet, Spaniards are never referred to as “spano-Cuban” or “spaniard-Cuban”. Why are only the Spanish and mulattos referred to as Cuban?

    Why the double standard?

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