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Cuban Parties: Noche BuenaChristmas Eve
Jorge: In Cuba, a special thing happened each year on Noche Buena, the night before Christmas. Families and entire neighborhoods gathered and had a great feast.
Glenn: Cuban families include grandparents, uncles, brothers, second, third, and fourth cousinsbasically anyone you’ve ever met who liked your jokes and complimented you on your food.
Raúl: Noche Buena parties were very large and there was always an abundance of food.
Glenn: Noche Buena means “good night.” It’s a time to celebrate life with good food, good music, and love. It is truly the most beautiful and heart-warming celebration of the entire year.
Raúl: The roasted pig was always the main attraction. Along with the pig, we had black beans, white rice, yuca con mojo, salad, and of course lots of Cuban bread.
Glenn: In the days before Christmas Eve, everyone started preparing desserts. Popular desserts included orange and grapefruit shells (cascos) in a heavy syrup and buñuelosa type of fried sweet dough with syrup.
Jorge: We also had Spanish turrones (a nougat candy that comes in a large bar), cheeses, nuts, and lots of wine, beer, and sidraSpanish hard apple cider.
Glenn: On December 23, they killed and cleaned the pig. The pig was doused with mojo and left to soak up all of this marinade throughout the night.
Jorge: December 23 was a day of hard work for the men and women because of all the preparations. However, it’s when the party got started, because everyone got together to help. Neighbors visited with each other and pitched in all during the day.
Raúl: On the 24th, it was time to get up early, set up the pigroaster, and begin roasting the pig. It’s when the parties really got cooking. When you walked from house to house, you could smell all the pigs roasting throughout the neighborhood.
Glenn: There are two groups of people celebrating Noche Buenathe “party givers” and the “party goers.” Some people had to stay home and host these elaborate parties, while others made the rounds from house to house enjoying many different celebrations in one evening and spreading holiday cheer.
Jorge: Many Noche Buena parties lasted until the early hours of the morning. One interruption in the party came when everyone went to the ‘misa del gallo’ or “Mass of the Rooster” at midnight.
Raúl: Of course, they call it this since it is celebrated so late at night.
Glenn: Once mass was over, many people returned to the parties for more food, drinks, dancing, and good times!
Jorge: Here in America, we have kept this tradition alive. Raúl hosts a traditional Noche Buena party each year at his home, complete with a big pig and all of the side dishes.
Raúl: It’s the biggest party of the year at our house!