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Monday, December 19, 2011

A Merry Cuban-Mexican-Italian Christmas -Christmas Guest post series Day 1

For the next few days you will get a real treat! A few wonderful bloggers have agreed to do guest posts talking about their Christmas traditions on my page. Christmas is such a special time of year and growing up I always thought everyone celebrated it the way I do. As a grew older I realized there were so many different celebrations for Christmas. Starting today and for the next few days we will learn about various ways people celebrate from cultural,to religious to just family traditions. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I have! I can't believe how much I've learned from this experience.

Day 1 Elia @ Conservamom
Christmas has always been a magical time in my life. From when I was little to now as an adult it's the tastes,scents and experiences of Christmas that have made for amazing memories. My Christmas was nothing short of unique growing up and I think know as an adult the blending of my husband and my's culture have given to a complete hybrid of a holiday always of course keeping Jesus as the Center of this blessed time of year.

As many as you all know my father came from Cuba in the 60's and my mom came from Mexico in the 70's so their cultural influences where what guided our holiday celebrations. Today I am going to speak of both and how even though they are coming from the same language speaking countries both holidays couldn't be any more different :)As well as touch on what we now do (Being married to someone of Italian decent).

Cubans main event is on Christmas Eve which is called "Noche Buena". That is the night in which all family comes together to celebrate and rejoice and especially party! The day always starts off with the preparation of a lechon or Pig which is cooked either in a Caja China or a pit.
Caja China
The pork is marinated in a mixture called Mojo which consists of garlic,bitter orange,pepper,salt,onion and a few other items that make this a delicious marinade. I always remember the male members of the family starting the process early and getting the "lechon" going while sitting around and talking about life while drinking beer and smoking cigars. In the kitchen you will find the ladies preparing moros and maduros(Black beans and rice cooked together and cooked ripened plantains)
As well as various deserts like Puddin the Pan (bread pudding) or Flan
 Noche Buena is a time of celebration,happiness and family, all enjoyed under the warm skies of Christmas Eve Night. Living in Kansas it's been hard to replicate the Cuban Christmas due to the cold weather that is usually a part of our Christmas celebration. Villansicos or Christmas carols are sung as well as music and dancing ensues. 

Much of the Cuban Culture is influenced by it's Spanish roots and so you can see a lot of uniformity through the actual celebration in the various Spanish speaking countries(food exclude of course)
Some of the villansicos the kids enjoy are  famous not just in Cuba but throught Latin America one of my favorite growing up was  "Mi burrito Sabanero" which talks about the little donkey taking Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. This version is actually sung by my cousins who on a spanish tv show with my aunts and uncles The Mora Arriagas.

As a child my night was always split between the Cuban and Mexican side and so after eating a complete feast at our Cuban Family's house we would head over to the Mexican Side to celebrate "La Posada"

Typically "La Posada" is a 9 day novena that starts on December 16th an ends on December 24th. In Spanish Posada means Lodging.  Because our family was so large and well life happened plus there really wasn't any other Mexicans around to split the other 8 days with we always had it that one night ( Christmas Eve). We would split the family into two and half were the pilgrims (los peregrinos), who have to request lodging by going house to house singing a traditional song about the pilgrims. All the pilgrims carry small lit candles in their hands, and someone would carry statuettes of Joseph leading a donkey, on which Mary is riding.
The head of the procession will have a candle inside a paper lampshade. At each house, the resident responds by refusing lodging (also in song), until the weary travelers reach the designated site for the party, where Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. Once the "innkeepers" let them in, the group of guests come into the home and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray the rosary. After that the party and food begin. I found the cutest video explaining it all :)

and below that is the song you will here :)

The food is also as amazing as the traditional songs and celebration. Huge platters of tamales,mole,tacos and my favorite pozole(A hominy and meat soup)
take over as the stars of the show. With all this eating it was a wonder I didn't gain 20 pounds on Christmas Eve! We also have a Pastorela which involves the children of the family reenacting the Nativity. It's always fun because we always use the baby(last year they used my 2 year old cousin but he walked away)of the family as baby Jesus.
It's so much fun and that always ends with 3 pinatas one with fruit,one with money(my favorite as a child)and one with candy.  

Christmas day was always a little more low key we would go to Christmas mass then exchange a few gifts and enjoy the left overs from the feast the night before. In Latin countries The feast of the Three kings(Epiphany) is the big event and so that is the day the kids get all their gifts.

Having married my husband who is of Italian decent things changed a lot now that I am an adult. Since we follow the Traditional Roman rite Christmas Eve is now a day of Fasting/Abstinence and so we now celebrate the "Feast of the Seven Fishes"in our home. The feast originates from Southern Italy where my husbands family comes from. It is a feast that consist of 7 different types of fish and pastas. It is literally a FEAST!

Of course like any party much celebrating and rejoicing is done various desserts are prepared like
and struffuli
to name a few...

Then on Christmas morning we attend Mass. We've been to Midnight mass a few times but with little ones that isn't an option at this time. Here are some beautiful pictures of some Traditional Catholic Churches ready for Christmas Mass..

Here is a picture of midnight Mass at Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit.

Because we follow that rite now my Cuban/Mexican Christmas is now celebrated on Christmas Day. It's just another sign of how coming together as a Family we can blend our two backgrounds and give our children a culturally rich and divers upbringing. These are the building blocks that have made me who I am today and I hope to continue to pass these traditions and experiences with my children and hopefully they can  pass it on to theirs :)


Fitra2009 said...

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Pipaclan said...

what a great post! the picture of the the altar....just beautiful! intersting...I learned a lot today!

Leanne @ Life Happens When said...

This was so very neat. Thank you for sharing all of your traditions and customs! I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

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