Las Parrandas

In the Days Before Christmas, Cuba Erupts in a Celebration of Lights

Seasons Greetings from the Center for World Music!

As our thoughts turn to Christmas, and celebrations, why not look at Christmas celebrations in Cuba, also on the horizon these days?

In 1820, as the story goes, a young priest noticed diminished attendance at mass from December 16 until Christmas. Hoping to attract parishioners, he instructed children to go out into the streets with cans, horns, bugles, rattles or any kind of noisemaker, hoping that the raucous noise would attract churchgoers. As the tradition evolved, organized bands began playing music in the streets, competing with each other for the honor of best performance.

Along with music, [the town of] Remedios—still home to the country’s largest and most popular Parrandas—fills with light during the festival.

At Smithsonian.com.