Is it possible that the traditions of a people combine aspects of European, African and American cultures? Cuban culture achieves this beautiful combination. Music, festivals, congrí, rum and tobacco. It is a land of athletes and artists.
Despite the establishment of the Castro regime that isolated the island from the rest of the world, Cuban culture has garnered worldwide attention. Representatives in different events of international importance, along with those who had to go into exile and recreate the lifestyle they had in their country of origin, have managed to keep alive and give indications of the traditions that characterize Cuba. It is not only the “products” themselves that attract attention, but also the Cubans themselves, who always welcome anyone who wants to dialogue with them and learn about the culture of this nation.
Cuban music has more than 70 genres – being a product of the combination of other cultures, it has its own unique style. The list of performers is endless: from the Cuban Nueva Trova, whose founders are Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez and Noel Nicola, to the renowned singer of tropical music, Celia Cruz, even the American Cuban roots Pitbull, there are many natives of the island that have amazed the world with their songs and their rhythms.
Of course, the great singers and composers go hand in hand with the genres that evoke joy and leave people with no choice but to dance. Salsa, son, timba, rumba, bolero, Cuban ballet and many other dances are the reflection of a people that radiate joy.
The power of music explains, to a large extent, the variety of festivals that take place on the island, in Little Havana in Miami or in all those corners of the world where those who had to leave the island gather.
Sports, like music, show the enormous potential that Cubans have, many being known in the world thanks to their excellence in athleticism. Baseball -also known as pelota-, boxing, soccer, to a lesser extent, and other athletic activities are the sports most practiced by Cubans. Several left their mark on the Olympic Games, such as the 1993 Prince of Asturias award winner, Javier Sotomayor, the boxers Félix Savón and Teófilo Stevenson, the fighter Mijaín López, and the “grasshopper”, Iván Pedroso, among others. Cubans are also baseball fans: they have their own amateur league (a necessary condition for the sport in Cuba) and several exiles who continue to leave their mark in the Major Leagues of the United States.
Besides being the origin of great sports and musical talents, Cuba, or rather Cuban culture, is marked by its great poets and writers. Several are responsible for making Cuban literature one of the most important in the American continent. In this sense, the most important names are those of José Martí, the National Poet José María Heredia or the winners of the Cervantes Prize, Alejo Carpentier and Dulce María Loynaz.
Made in Cuba: Plates, Drinks, and Cigars
Like other great cultures, that of Cuba has its typical products. The reputation of some of them adds value to Cuban culture.
As for food, the congrí and moros y cristianos (Moors [black beans] and Christians [white rice]) are two of the traditional dishes of Cuban gastronomy. What differentiates them? The type of bean (red or black). In both dishes, the combination is with rice, but you can add seasonings. They are not the only dishes: the campesino sandwich, created by Cubans living in Florida, or the tostón are also dishes that people, in general, relate to the island’s culinary culture.
In any case, when it comes to talking about 100% Cuban products, it is inevitable to mention rum and tobacco.
Cuba has sugar cane, from which the juice is obtained to make rum. It is in high demand throughout the world, considering that Cuban rum is of unparalleled quality. Cuban rum has many varieties and is the base for different cocktails, such as Cuba libre or a mojito.
Of all the products and people that contribute to Cuban culture, cigars are, perhaps, the country’s highlight. The cigars are produced in other areas of the Americas as well, but none have the same recognition as those that are made 100% with tobacco grown in Cuba. In all corners of the world there are people willing to pay large amounts of money in order to possess one or more cigars.
Beyond all these wonders that enrich Cuban culture, what runs in the blood of the Cuban people is the desire to be free. The sweetness of the rum, the rhythm of salsa, and the inspiration of Martí are samples of what Cubans can contribute to their land and to the world.
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