Cuba between traditions, legends and curiosities

Giraldilla and her love story

The Giraldilla is the name attributed to a flagship flag located on the bell tower of the castle of Real Fuerza in Havana, a small bronze sculpture that has become a symbol of the city of Havana. The history of its origins is lost in the legend of a love story.
It is said that Bobadilla's beautiful Doña Isabel, married to Hernando de Soto, named General Captain of Cuba by the King of Spain Carlos I, was used to waiting for her husband to spend many hours in the watch tower of Castello de la Real Fuerza waiting to see the Ships that would bring her husband home from a long exploratory trip to the American continent (the present Georgia, Alabama and Florida). Unfortunately, Hernando de Soto died in those lands because of an uncontrollable fever (likely malaria), it is said that his wife died of love when she met her husband's fate.

Some years later, artist Gerónimo Martin Chaffinch (1607-1649), inspired Doña Isabel of Bobadilla as a reference and symbol of marriage by sculpting a figure in his memory.
The city governor at that time, Don Juan Bitrián Viamonte, blended the brass sculpture into a bronze scraping vane and then set it to the top of the tallest tower in the newly built castle. Governor Bitrán baptized this record label with the name Giraldilla, after the Giralda of his hometown, Seville. The original statuette is preserved in the Museum of the city, on the highest point of the castle there is a copy.

Guayabera, typical Cuban shirt

It is reported that a farmer in the province of Sancti Spiritus has asked his wife to make a comfortable shirt to work in the fields. His wife made a new shirt that was comfortable and practical but could not imagine that his original design will make it so popular, first among the residents of the area and then around the world.
The name of this shirt was yayabera, because it was born in the region near the Yayabo River. It is also reported that the farmers of that area during the harvest of guavas (local fruit) left some fruits in the pockets of the yayabera and for this reason the name soon turned into guayabera. Generally in white fabric, it is a cool, comfortable and elegant dress and can have long or short sleeves. It usually has four large pockets on the front, two rows of pleats on the chest and three on the back that ends in two buttons.

Another hypothesis about the origin of the guayabera is attributed to a Spanish immigrant who has become a tailor in the village of Sancti Spiritus in the eighteenth century. He packed and sold large shirts with comfortable pockets to hold cigars, in other words, a garment similar to the current guayabera.
Whether the origins are attributed to the hands of the farmer's wife or the Spanish tailor, Guayabera, became very popular, so that in 1880 the Sancti Spiritus Town Hall authorized its use in official events. In the second half of the twentieth century, Cuban politicians began wearing it on their electoral tours across the island, hoping to be so much more grateful to the peasant population.

In the 1950s, a change was made to the garment by adding a lace to the neck to give a more formal character to the guayabera so that it could be introduced in the large lounges and even in official government meetings. When Ramón Grau San Martin assumed the first magistrate in 1944, he raised it to the rank of court suit.

The great Carnival of Santiago de Cuba

The Santiago de Cuba carnival is the largest, most famous and most traditional carnival of all of Cuba, it is an explosion of color, contagious rhythms of drum and dance. It is also a time for the Cubans to gather and remember their history, community and culture.
The second largest city after Havana, Santiago is the most exotic city in Cuba, with many and several ethnic groups that have established over the centuries, including African, Chinese, Indigenous, French Haitians and Spaniards. The Santiago de Cuba Carnival is a blend of these cultures highlighting the richness of music and dance. There are many forms originated in Santiago de Cuba and known in the world like Conga, Rumba and the Son (which later developed into what people today call sauce). 

One of the most characteristic features of Santiago's Carnival is comparsas. These are street performances or parades that are made up of a music group and a team of costume dancers that can be heard in different areas of the city. Even popular orchestras make their way to Santiago for the festivities. For the locals, as long as there is music for dancing and plenty of beer, the carnival is a success.
In most Roman Catholic societies, the Carnival is a festival held immediately before Lent and celebrated in February or March while the Carnival of Santiago de Cuba is typically held towards the end of July. It is known to be an evolution from the summer festivals previously named Mamarrachos. These Mamarrachos were held on June 24 (Saint John's Day), June 29 (Saint Peter), July 24 (San Cristina's Day), July 25 (St. James's Day of Apostle) and July 26. In most cases, the way in which the Mamarrachos had been celebrated actually did not have much to do with the religion that gave their individual days their names.

The locals used these popular feast dates to celebrate in their own way and the names of the saints were kept simply for convenience or perhaps to make it easier for the colonial government to continue to allow the style of celebration that was conducted. The exact age and origin of the Mamarrachos are unknown. It seems that the Mamarrachos of 1800 were even more intense and elaborate celebrations than they are today. They included objects and liquids thrown by other participants (as well as others who did not attend), traditional foods such as aisle, empanadas, omelettes, pancakes, fruit, fried or roast pork, horse racing, theatrical shows, paseo (a parade of Animal driven carriages), fire, transport of torches on pilgrimage to the shrines, consumption of rum "Yara", beer.

Virgin Caridad of the Cobre patron saint of Cuba

According to the legend, in 1613, two Indian brothers and nine or ten year-old Creole were all together to collect sea salt in Nipe Bay, on the northeastern coast of Cuba, when they saw a wooden statuette of about sixty centimeters floating in Sea, was that of a Madonna with Jesus child, the statuette reported an incision: Virgin Caridad del Cobre.

Considered as a sign of the sky, the locals built a hermitage where to place the statuette. Later, on the side of a local mine, the miners realized a real sanctuary in the same place. So Cuban devotion began for this image.
During the Independence Wars of 1868, Cuban troops expressed great devotion to the Virgin Caridad of the Cobre and pledged to protect the shrine. The war veterans of the Independence War then asked Pope Benedict XV to proclaim the Virgin Caridad of the Cobre Patron of Cuba. Some years after Pope Pius XI authorized the canonical coronation of the sacred image. On the morning of December 20, 1936, the coronation was celebrated by the bishop of Santiago de Cuba.

Pilgrims who visited the shrine bring with them a tiny stone from the brilliant copper mine, store them in the house in a glass of water, pockets or handbags, as protection against evil or as a hope of good for the future personal Or familiar.
The Virgin Caridad del Cobre is also worshiped in the Afro-Cuban syncretic cults (cults in which Christian, traditional and practical beliefs, practices and rituals coexist) such as Ochún, the goddess of love and money, the sweet water patron.

Polymita picta, the beautiful Cuban snail

In a few places in Cuba you can admire one of the wonders of nature, a snail called polymita picta. It is located in the southern Cuba area in the forests near the city of Baracoa, at Fuerte Matachin, one of the three Spanish Cuban strongholds that rises at the southern entrance of Baracoa, a specific exhibition on this mollusc is set up.
Another place to find this Cuban endangered snail is in the Pinar del Rio region, there is a very particular geological structure, a valley where an ancient plateau was partially eroded by the action of atmospheric agents, reducing to a series of Pinnacles / mounds separated by steep canyons covered by lush tropical vegetation.
The Polymita are considered the most beautiful "shells" of the world because of their unique coloring dictated by the type of mollusc feeding, there are many varieties with shells that seem to be painted by a fanciful artist who expresses them using a thousand colors combining them by creating Spectacular contrasts, which only nature can do. This species has been declared at risk of extinction as prey to local residents using Polymita picta shells to produce jewelery of various kinds to be sold to tourists.

New Year's Eve party in Las Charangas de Bejucal

Who decides to go to Cuba to celebrate the end of the year with sun and sea, will be in the middle of one of Havana's oldest festivals, Las Charangas de Bejucal, during which the city is divided into two parts , A blue and a red, that reproduce the rivalry between Creoles and Spaniards on one side and Africans on the other, playing music.
The performances of Los Tambores de Bejucal (a typical high-prestigious Cuban percussion band) spark the traditional rivalry between two groups of conga. The Ceibistas (members of the Ceiba de Plata group, characterized by blue color and a scorpion as their symbol) compete with the Espinistas (members of the Espina de Oro, who wear red and have a rooster as a symbol) to see who succeeds Play the drums with the highest and most impressive sound. Typical food at the Charangas include pan with lechón (pork sandwich), popcorn, churros (fried dough strips) and cotton candy.
The origin of the Charangas is very similar to that of the Parrandas de Remedios and dates back to 1830. At the beginning the party was of a purely religious character and according to tradition it took place on 24 December, the date on which the slaves were released To join the free blacks and creoles. During the party, Black Africans devoted themselves to worship the Orishas (African deities), playing their drums, praying and dancing along the main streets of Bejucal. Their rituals had particular characteristics depending on the ethnic group of origin, Congo, Carabalíes, Ararás, Mandigas and Lucimíes, who inevitably had different spiritual traditions and formed their own cabildos. Rivalries were born among the cabildos to show their cultural pride on Christmas Eve, thus creating the feast.

The Spaniards and Creoles who lived in Bejucal, celebrated the festival, baptized a group of black and mixed people with the name of Musicanga (which meant disgusting and poor music) while another group of color people named Malayos (who Meant galli-rossi). The Musicangai adopted blue color and a scorpion as a representative animal while the Malayos chose red and rooster as their favorite animal. By fusion of cultures that characterize Cuban identity, racial and class differences have been lost over time. At the beginning of the twentieth century, rival groups renamed: Musicanga was called Ceiba de Plata (silk-cotton silver) and the Malayos named Espina de Oro (golden plug).

He got Ritual, a propitiatory ritual 

Ebbo or Ritual Cleansing, are frequent propitiatory ritual practices in Afro-Cuban environments. It has different shapes and different procedures based on the goals you want to achieve. Some of them are designed to strengthen or improve the physical or spiritual aspect, or to obtain social or economic promotion, to prevent the course of justice, to avoid a endless misery in love or in private relationships. All this in order to achieve an important purpose in the lives of devotees or any other person who addresses this religion.

The elements used are different and vary based on the material to be solved, the nature and the results you want to achieve. We use different materials according to the end goal, for example, seeds, plants, roots, water (fresh water or sea), birds, animals, delicious meals, bills and coins, mechanical tools, bones etc.

The procedures are also different, from the rubbing of the object to the body of the people "in this case to harmonize the vibrations of the people," or the offering of the blood of the consecrated animals that the devotees can eat according to a specific determined preparation By an oracle. This ritual is also performed as a thank you when a request has been received.

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