Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 20: Christmas in Cuba

It’s Day 20 of our Advent Calendar and Christmas is only five days away. For many of us, Christmas is the best time of the year, but there are also those who are already sick and tired of the season, which is why today we are headed to Cuba, to see how Christmas is celebrated – or rather, not celebrated – in Cuba. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!


Cuba is the ideal Christmas holiday destination for those of us who couldn’t care less about Christmas, because Christmas isn’t really celebrated at all. From 1969 until 1998, Christmas was outlawed by the communist regime, and even today Cuban families still hardly celebrate Christmas. Christmas Day is a regular working day and children go to school as usual. Christmas is generally visible only at hotels and restaurants catering to tourists, though some shops and homes are slowly starting to pick up the habit of decorating for Christmas.

Christmas Day in Cuba may be business as usual, but Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena, as it is called in Spanish, is still a big family celebration for Cubans, despite the three decade ban on Christmas. Families get together and feast on roast pig, fried plantains and rice, topping it off with traditional buñuelos, cassava fritter shaped like the number eight and served with anise syrup, though rum cakes are popular as well. A similar dinner is also served for New Year’s celebrations. If you can get yourself an invite to a Cuban Nochebuena fiesta, you’re certainly in for a treat.

So, if escaping Christmas is your plan and you want to enjoy good weather and sunshine, Cuba is an excellent choice!

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Marco Polo Cuba Spiral Guide

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