Traditions and customs of Cuba

What traditions and customs are there in Cuba?

Great detail of customs and traditions of Cuba, in the following paragraphs.


Food in daily life

The normal daily diet in Cuba is quite simple. Rice and beans are a staple, supplemented by fried plantains, root vegetables, and vegetables. Cucumbers are a cheap and filling vegetable supplement. While beef was consumed by all segments of the population, pork and chicken have overtaken it as a cheaper alternative.

The pork is made into a low-quality ham called vikin ham, which cost about $2 a pound in Havana in the summer of 2000. Beef is virtually unavailable to city dwellers.

Historically, more than half of daily caloric intake has been imported. Despite efforts to reverse this situation, agriculture has been mainly devoted to sugar.

Both the United States and, later, the Soviet Union, discouraged Cuba from diversifying agricultural production by penalizing it with negative terms of trade if it did not accept grain imported from abroad. For this reason, the country has not been able to supply its citizens with adequate food since the collapse of the socialist trade network.

Daily food rations have long been governed by the libretta, a booklet that rations monthly allowances for staples like rice, oil, sugar, beans and soap.

Since the economic crisis of the 1990s (called the “Special Period in Times of Peace”) led to extreme austerity measures and a huge downsizing of the state sector, food subsidies have been reduced to below subsistence levels. Despite innovative attempts to feed themselves, many Cubans go hungry.

To improve food distribution and alleviate hunger, free agricultural markets (MLC), closed in 1986 because they had allowed some Cubans to get rich at the expense of others, have been reopened.

Food customs on ceremonial occasions

Cubans are very fond of sweets, and a cake is a special treat that is usually reserved for birthdays. Ice cream is also a special treat and a national obsession; The national ice cream manufacturer “Copelia” is well known for its very fine ice cream, and Cubans believe it to be the best in the world. An ice cream “salad” costs 5 Cuban pesos, or thirty euro cents.


In the 19th century, anxiety about the Afro-Cuban majority gave rise to efforts to “whiten” the population. This agenda, combined with a chronic shortage of women, led to the development of a legal code and an informal code that calculated not only ethnicity but also wealth, family reputation, and virginity status to determine which group marriages mixed ethnic backgrounds were permissible.

The transformation of illicit unions into acceptable marriages is part of a social program that seeks to alleviate anxiety about race relations, illegitimacy, and the scarcity of white women, especially in rural areas.

In the countryside, marriage, as in all civil institutions before the Revolution, was much less formal than in the province of Havana. Most rural areas in the east did not have the regular services of a priest, and colonial government institutions did not function well.

The result was a marriage tradition that followed regional customs but did not have the benefit of legal or ecclesiastical sanction.

In its early years, the Revolution took steps to formalize common-law couplings. While some of the social reproductive functions of the family were taken over by the revolutionary state, marriage itself has been encouraged. But the institution of marriage has suffered because of the new legal equality of women.

Men have become resentful of the disruption of their privileges, and women struggle to participate in the PCC and FMC, raise their children, maintain their homes, and work full time outside the home. Under these conditions, marriages are often strained, and the divorce rate is much higher than that of neo-colonial dictators.


Being generous and hospitable is a highly valued quality. Unlike in Central America, houses are not protected by metal fences, doors are left open, and visitors are always welcome. It is rude not to greet every man with a handshake and every woman with a kiss on the cheek.

Touching as a show of affection is not taboo and has no sexual connotation. Cubans like to complain and argue heatedly; it is said that an argument is not over until everyone collapses from exhaustion. But this kind of argument is performative and relieves social tension.

The most intense interpersonal conflict requires a more subtle approach; Cubans resist open conflict, so the social norm is to minimize interpersonal conflicts by expressing them through innuendos rather than direct accusations.


Religious beliefs

Religious faith and practice have not been as influential in the culture of Cuba as in other Latin American nations, for two reasons: first, in the colonial period the Catholic clergy were almost entirely peninsular (born in Spain). They represented the external power of Spain and therefore Catholicism itself was suspect, especially with the population that supported independence.

Second, there simply weren’t many priests in rural areas, especially in the East. Those Cubans who chose to maintain a faith practice were left to produce a religiosity of their own design. The popular religiosity that developed among white and Creole Cubans was a local version of Catholicism enriched with African influences.

Santeria is a product of this religious syncretism. Due to the demographic history of the island, Santeria – a religious system of the Yoruba people of Nigeria who were brought as slaves – is more prevalent in the eastern region.

It is based on the maintenance of relationships, both between people and between people and deities called orishas. Since the orishas were comparable and interchangeable with Catholic saints, slaves could put on a face of Catholic piety while worshiping their own gods.

Since the relaxation of state censorship in the 1990s there has been an increase in Protestant missionary activity on the island. Membership in the Catholic Church is on the rise, and Pope John Paul II was welcomed to the island in January 1998 to liven up the crowds of both worshipers and onlookers.

Evangelical Protestantism is growing at an even faster rate, fueled perhaps by the desperate material conditions prevailing on the island and the population’s need for hope in a sea of ​​poverty and despair.

Religious professionals

In 1961, when it was discovered that the churches were being used as a base for counter-revolutionary conspiracies, all foreign priests were invited to leave the island.

This hostility was cemented with the declaration of atheism in the first socialist constitution in 1976. Practicing religious leaders and the faithful were barred from some professions and promoted to high government positions.

However, Castro was impressed by Latin American Liberation Theology, which sided with the poor in their struggles against oppressive governments and neoliberal capitalism.

The leading role of Christian religious leaders in the Nicaraguan socialist revolution was particularly highlighted by Castro, whose attitude towards religion softened considerably as a result. In the 1980s, more freedom was given to printing religious materials and preaching, and in 1991, faith was removed as an impediment to party membership.

Rituals and sacred places

Due to the unpopularity and suppression of religion in the early revolutionary period, public Christian rituals are rare.

There are no sacred places to which pilgrimages are made, although the cathedrals of Santiago and Havana are symbolic and continue to offer mass. More common is a home altar that can include both Catholic and African elements.

The Afro-Cuban religion is more likely to be celebrated publicly in the Oriente. Churches continue to celebrate events on the Christian calendar, but these rituals generally do not extend to the streets.

Death and the afterlife

There is no common pattern of beliefs regarding life after death. Santería maintains a belief in the survival of ancestral spirits, and the Christian faithful have a theology of heaven. Funerals are held and may invoke religious images, but more commonly it is a secular ceremony in which the deceased is remembered for her contribution to the socialist project.

Secular celebrations

Two significant events in Cuban history are celebrated annually with great fanfare. The first is the symbolic date of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959, when Batista fled to Miami and the Sierra Maestra guerrillas arrived in Havana.

This celebration coincides perfectly with the New Year. The second event is the attack on the Moncada barracks by Fidel and his fellow revolutionaries on July 26, 1953, symbolically launching the final and triumphant Cuban revolutionary movement.

This celebration coincides with the annual “carnival” in both Santiago and Havana. Consisting of song and dance, extravagant costumes, and lots of eating and drinking, carnival has a history that predates the Revolution.

The arts and humanities

Arts support

The declared objective of the Revolution is to encourage the development of the capacities of each citizen, even if those talents are not economically productive. The State supports promising artists and art schools, creating the Cuban Film Institute, the National Council of Culture and the National School of Arts. Recently there has been external funding, as the international art world has become very interested in Cuban artistic production.


Writers enjoy the privileged position of visionary thinkers, in part because the hero of Cuban nationalism was a poet, José Martí. In the early years of the Revolution there was considerable censorship, but the state relaxed censorship in 1987 and now allows critical ideas to be openly debated as long as they do not incite treason.

Graphic arts

Although artistic production is supported by the state, in the past it was also ideologically restricted by state censors. But now that Cuban art has become popular in the United States and Europe, it has become a potential source of foreign income from tourists and art dealers. The state has become more permissive of protest art since it became financially lucrative.

Cinema has been a popular and successful art form since 1959. Havana hosts the internationally renowned Festival of New Latin American Cinema every year. Cubans love to go to the movies; it’s a favored and cheap form of recreation, and because film production has been socialized, going to the movies only costs about fourteen cents.

Performing arts

Expressive language, music and dance are a cultural heritage that Cubans frequently express. Any Cuban can dance and enjoy performing at Carnival, for tourists or at parties. Afro-Cuban music is performed on street corners and in living rooms across the island.

Cuba is also known worldwide for the National Ballet of Cuba, whose founder and artistic director, Alicia Alonso, continues to guide the company and attend shows. In accordance with the ideals of the socialist state, the ballet is financed with public funds, so that it is accessible to all citizens, with an approximate cost of twenty-five cents per performance.

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