Christmas Eve is celebrated in Cuba, not Christmas Day.
It’s called Noche Buena, and it includes food, music, dancing and gatherings.
A traditional Cuban Noche Buena feast consists of plenty of roast pig (yes, a whole one), black beans and rice, fried plantains and yucca with garlic. To wash it all down: mojitos, cuba libres, or a sidra (sparkling hard cider). Desserts include rice pudding and rum cake. I can feel the food coma starting already.
Music-wise, before the Castro years, Cuban bands simply mambo-fied the Christmas standards. Of late, good Latin Jazz Christmas recordings are sadly few and far between. You’ll hear Christmas tunes from one of the best collections featuring Arturo Sandoval, Sheila E. and Poncho Sanchez on Jazz Caliente this Thursday afternoon at 2pm on KPLU’s Mid Day Jazz.
In the meantime, enjoy this song about going into the forest to find a Christmas tree (“Arbolito”) from Tito Puente and Cuba’s Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz.