Have you ever celebrated New Year’s Eve, Cuba-style? At Alma de Cuba, we’re already planning for the big night ahead, which is one of the biggest annual party nights in our spiritual island home.
Cubans love a good party and that doesn’t change on the last night of the year. Alongside free concerts in Havana and Santiago de Cuba, plenty of wild firework celebrations on the streets of the towns and cities and an official ceremony involving 12-gun salutes broadcast live from the famous Cabaña Fortress, residents of the Caribbean island also enjoy some extravagant partying at home to welcome in the new year.
In fact, January 1 isn’t just New Year’s Eve in Cuba – it’s also the anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, when Fidel Castro and his revolutionary army declared victory and marched into Havana in 1959, making it a double celebration.
And given that Christmas has never been a big event in the country, thanks to three decades of Castro rule where the holiday wasn’t celebrated publicly, New Year’s has become the defacto family get-together in the country.
Much louder and bigger than the typical festive celebrations around the world, we’ve taken a look at some of the most common family traditions to play out in Cuban homes when the clocks strike midnight on December 31…
A big part of festive celebrations in Cuba revolve around food – huge family dinner parties are the normal fanfare for events like Christmas and New Year’s.
And Cuban’s preferred festive meal generally revolves around pork, so just like at Christmas, it’s not unusual for a family to roast a whole pig on an outdoor spit to start the NYE party.
If you’re visiting Cuba for New Year’s, you might want to watch where you’re treading. Specifically, make sure you watch out for balconies and windows while you walk through the streets of the country’s famously historic cities or you could be in for a cold and wet surprise.
One surprising tradition that Cubans stick to is throwing a bucket of dirty water out the house on New Year’s Eve. The water is said to represent the negativity and bad omens of the passing year which is then thrown away out of the house.
Ready to hear something crazy? One of the more popular traditions around New Year’s Eve in Cuba involves 12 grapes and the stroke of midnight.
When the countdown ends each grape is eaten, one after the other, to represent the 12 months of the New Year, with a wish made per grape. When all 12 are eaten, this fruity midnight feast is washed down with a glass of sidra (a Spanish cider that’s fermented without any added sweeteners). And the oddest part? You have to do all this before the clock reaches 00:01am or you’ll be facing bad luck for the rest of the year!
Another symbolic way that Cubans wave goodbye to the passing year is burning a ‘muñecon’ on the streets. Often jointly done by blocks of residents, the tradition is another way to purge any hung-over negativity from the past year.
Literally translating as big doll or puppet, a scarecrow-like effigy emblazoned with the current year is burnt on a bonfire, symbolizing the destruction of negative vibes in preparation to face the new year.
Looking to go travelling in the new year? Make like the Cubans and take your suitcase for a walk around the block on New Year’s Eve to up your chances of heading off on some travels in the coming months.
Create your own traditions by celebrating New Year’s Eve at Alma de Cuba this year.
We’re hosting a magnificent party, thanks to Radio City’s very own Lee Butler, who’s set to be spinning the decks throughout the night when the countdown to 2019 begins.
Located within the historic old church on Seel Street, Alma de Cuba is one of Liverpool’s favourite bars and restaurants. The listed building boasts breath-taking original features, with glittering stained-glass windows and a grand, old altar behind the DJ decks.
We’re already preparing for a jam-packed festive season filled with Christmas cheer. Join us for fabulous festive lunches throughout December and a showstopping opportunity to enjoy Christmas day dinner, with a touch of Alma sunshine, for the most wonderful time of the year.
We can’t wait to welcome you into our stunning venue for all your festive celebrations: whether you’re looking for the ultimate party with Lee Butler, or a family meal for Christmas, there’s no better place to enjoy a Liverpool Christmas and New Year than Alma de Cuba.