A Cuban Christmas isn’t your usual Christmas party. We celebrate “Noche Buena” (Christmas Eve) in an elaborate way that always makes it a memorable holiday. Here’s a look into a typical Cuban “Noche Buena.”
When you arrive, you have to hug and kiss everyone. It’s a custom on how Cubans greet eachother, and you must say hello to everyone. If not, Tia Juanita will call you out on it by saying “Bismarie, y que yo no boy a reciver un besito?”
Each family member brings a homemade dish, our version of a potluck. Abuela brings her famous frijoles negros, Tia brings her famous flàn, Prima Chita brings her famous yucca. You get the drift? But it’s really true! Tia Abuela Mirta brings platanos maduro, la Mora brings boñuelos, Michi brings coquito, Tita brings turron, Nina brings congri, and so on.
All the while Tio and Abuelo have been roasting the pig in the backyard since 11 AM for our 9 PM dinner. Everyone is constantly going to check and smell the pig.
Since Cubans are impatient, the hostess of the evening will always have 20 bags of plantain chips, if you are lucky they are sometimes homemade. A couple of domino tables to keep us occupied while we wait for the pork to cook. Dominos are played in teams of two and we use the 9 dot set. Like Abuela says “It’s not real dominos if it’s not the 9 dot set.”
The youngest members of the family are running around playing hide & seek or tag, having the time of their lives
Then there’s always Tio Eduardo, who’s had too many Heinekens and starts singing ‘Guantanamera’ at the top of his lungs.
Finally, the pork is READY. Dinner is buffet style, so it’s time to snuggle up and get in line. There’s always the same five people that fight to be first. This is a time to chat with someone you haven’t talked to all night.
Even though, dinner is buffet style we still manage to all sit together. The tables are set-up long, “L” or “U” shaped to fit everyone. Everyone comments on the dishes and plates go empty. When you look over to the pig, there are still some picking their special parts. The skin, “chicharon,” is one special pick.
Lastly, we finish off the night with the best flan and arroz con leche, only your abuela can make. It’s the most satisfying Christmas dinner.
Merry Christmas everyone! Have a wonderful “Noche Buena”🎄