Cuba Culture and Traditions

CULTURE: GENERAL INFORMATION

The Cuban cultural soul, a direct emanation of the ethnic one, is threefold: the native component, the Spanish one and that of the African slaves deported here are recognized. In the various spheres of Cuban cultural life one or the other prevails alternately, but it is the fusion of different influences that gives it shape and peculiarity. As often happens, religion is the sphere in which the mixture is more evident, with expressions between the sacred and the folkloric of rare intensity. Foreign domination and the dictatorial regime are the themes most explored by literature, whose voices, often from exile, are also those that are best able to grasp the contradictions of Cuba in the third millennium. If in art the figurative disciplines in the strict sense have been placed side by side, and overcome, from trends linked to government propaganda (graphics for posters, film sets, editorial publications), cinema itself has proved to be one of the sectors most supported by cultural policies. In fact, 1959, the year of Castro’s conquest of power, and 1976, the year of the Constitution, mark two important watersheds also for the cultural life of Cuba. education and information, for the creation of cultural institutes and centers; on the other hand, it advocates a rather rigid regulation of the voices and cultural manifestations capable of representing the new Cuba, above all through the action of the Ministry of Culture, established in 1976.

As with the other arts, even the theater in Cuba has benefited from the economic, logistical and promotional support of the government, becoming an important means of propaganda, not too hidden, and dealing only in a second and more recent phase with the social, economic and cultural problems of the country. Today the scenario in which artists, theaters and companies operate has a more international scope, also favored by exchanges promoted by institutions such as Casa de las Americas, cultural center and true beating heart of the Latin American artistic world. Undoubtedly, among the merits ascribable to the centralized conduct of cultural life it should be pointed out that today the country has about 2000 libraries and 250 museums, and many institutions such as the Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Art and Film Industry or the National Institute of Sports (baseball, a national sport, is very popular and followed). On the other hand, constant and rather rigid government control over the media, both in the printed media and in the radio and television sector, cannot be denied. In addition, a series of UNESCO protected sites bear witness to the country’s rich past: the old city of Havana and its fortification system (1982); Trinidad and the Valle de los Ingenios (1988); the Castle of San Pedro de la Roca in Santiago (1997); the Viñales Valley (1999); the archaeological landscape of the first coffee plantations in Southeast Cuba (2000); the historic urban center of Cienfuegos (2005); the historic center of Camagüey (2008).

CULTURE: TRADITIONS

As part of the recovery of national traditions following the revolution, the original Indian element, belonging to the Taino culture, has been re-evaluated, or Aruachi, giving impetus to scientific research (in the swampy region of Cienaga de Zapata an Indian pile-dwelling village has even been rebuilt, with considerable repercussions also on the tourist movement). The Spanish contribution has marked the life and culture of the upper classes, of strict Catholic observance. Alongside Catholicism, officially the most widespread faith, various sects of African origin have widely developed (such as those of the Lucumi and the Abakua), which often practice magical and animist rites and have given rise to a complex and varied mythology and a wide folklore, especially concerning funerary rites. The most important popular festival is the Carnival, celebrated with pomp of costumes, processions and fireworks, on different dates, according to the cities. In Havana, once nicknamed the “Las Vegas of the Caribbean”, it falls between Christmas and New Year; in Santiago towards the end of July. Blacks of some religious sects have adopted various Catholic holidays; among the most popular: the feast of the patron saint of Havana, the Virgen de la Regla (assimilated by the Lucumi to the goddess of the sea), and the feast of the Virgen de Candelaria (Purification of the Virgin). The revolution then established a new calendar of civil holidays, among which the one of January 1st (anniversary of the definitive victory of the Castroites) stands out.

According to thefreegeography, the musical folklore is very rich; the main instrument is the drum (of which there are a wide variety of types, basically distinguished between sacred drums and drums for profane music). Among the most singular instruments are mentioned: the among which the one of January 1st (anniversary of the definitive victory of the Castroites) stands out. The musical folklore is very rich; the main instrument is the drum (of which there are a wide variety of types, basically distinguished between sacred drums and drums for profane music). Among the most singular instruments are mentioned: the among which the one of January 1st (anniversary of the definitive victory of the Castroites) stands out. The musical folklore is very rich; the main instrument is the drum (of which there are a wide variety of types, basically distinguished between sacred drums and drums for profane music). Among the most singular instruments are mentioned: the maraces, claves, mariba and marimbula. The repertoire of dances is very rich: habanera, danzón, sandunguita, samba, conga, rumba, cha-cha-cha (all of Creole origin and adapted by blacks) and other dances of purely African origin. Also worth mentioning are various African American pantomimes. Guayabera (a light shirt worn by men) is traditional in clothing. In the diet, pork, fish, many dishes of Creole origin, many of African origin (such as the popular congri, prepared with black beans and rice), beans, certain tubers called viandas are widely consumed., tomatoes; the papaya and banana, among the fruits; cane juice and molasses for various drinks and sweets. Coffee, beer and rum are the most popular drinks. Traditional is the consumption of cigars, renowned all over the world.

Cuba Culture and Traditions