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Christmas in Cuba




Monday, December 21, 2009

Pictured above:
In Christmas 1954-55, Cuba issued the world's first postage stamp depicting Santa Claus.
Christmas in Cuba is one of the most joyous occasions in the country and observed with great fun and festivity! Following the declaration of Cuba as an atheist nation in 1962, the [Christmas] festival was removed from [the] list of holidays of [the] Cuban calendar in the year 1969 when Fidel Castro decided it was interfering with the sugar harvest festival. Cuban authorities banned the public display of Christmas trees and nativity scenes, other than in places frequented by tourists, such as hotels. But in 1997, President Castro restored the holiday to honor, in honor of the visit of Pope John Paul II in the island. With Christmas coming back to its former glory, a large Mass is now held in Havana's Revolution Square. Thousands of Cubans worship at midnight Masses, as church bells ring out across Havana at the stroke of the midnight hour signifying the transition from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. Giant-sized TV screens are set up in the square outside Havanna's cathedral so that crowds can watch the Pope celebrate Christmas Mass at St. Peter's in Rome. Cuba also celebrates the traditional Feast of the Three Kings ("Los Reyes Magos") on January 6. Cuban children receive presents on both holidays; the little presents on Christmas and the big ones on the Epiphany (or 12th day of Christmas), which is closely related to the 12 Days of Christmas as referred to in popular holiday stories.  [Sources: The Holiday Spot, Review of Cuban-Americanblogs, Globalvoicesonline]

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