How They Banned Christmas in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on December 28, 2013
With a cloudy sky and rough seas which were dangerous for small craft,
last Wednesday the 18th the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba
approved, as if by chance, the import of new and used cars into the country.
Dear God, they arranged the same media distraction when, in 1997, just
before the visit of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Havana, without
any explanation, the revolutionary government, pen in hand, decreed, or
re-decided, that 25th December should be a public holiday.
Since then, without fear, our grandparents dust and polish their
traditions and, in spite of adversities, disguise the island with odours
because, some more and many less, on Christmas Eve they brighten up
their homes with some pork, chicken, rice, beans, and food, preferably
yuccas, seasoned with a delicious mojo sauce based on bitter orange and
lots of garlic. You can come across the same thing in the Christmas
specials in restaurants.
A complete national calorie binge, uniting sad people, proud people,
happy ones, peaceful ones, Catholics, non-Catholics, agnostics,
protestants, devotees of the saints, masons, atheists, all of them, to
celebrate the festivities and await the coming of a child who was born
over 2,000 years ago.
They made use of all sorts of reasons to erase Christmas: The death of
Ernesto Guevara, the sugar harvest period, revolutionary priorities, in
the end, everything you all know perfectly well; but it was a Christmas
message which paradoxically fell from the sky on December 24, 1968,
which aroused the fury of the ex-commander-in-chief and after some mad
cursing put an end to the celebration.
It turned out to be the Man, I am of course referring to the one dressed
in olive green, seated to the right of a short wave radio tuned to VOA.
Suddenly he heard the voice of astronaut Bill Anders approaching the
moon's dawn, and, instead of an announcement of war, read the opening
verses of Genesis, expressing his admiration for the wonders of the
cosmos and the greatness of its creator.
Fidel Castro went mad, he felt diminished, nevertheless he carried on
listening, awaiting the sound of cannon fire, and received a bolt of
lightning in the vein.
The transmission from the sky ended with: "And on behalf of the crew of
Apollo 8 we will end by saying Goodnight, Good luck, Happy Christmas and
may God bless you all on the good earth."
His pride overwhelms him. He gets up, scowling, waves his arm in an arc
and – like a Spanish dancer – stamps his heels as if the ground were
Tablado de Corazones [Ed. note: quote from a poem by José Martí, El alma
trémula y sola]. After a moment, they heard "………(a swear word), that's
the end of Christmas."
That wasn't all he suspended, from then on all religious events were
victim to a bout of amnesia imposed by the triumphant young government
of 1959. After about 30 years of exaggerated prohibition, it is making a
comeback like a new opportunity. Our family-eclectic-religious cultural
heritage and our traditions which were wounded by the Spanish conquest,
cannot be erased by decree, they endure, this is the proof. HAPPY CHRISTMAS
Translated by GH
24 December 2013
Source: How They Banned Christmas in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida |
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