December 26, 2013

Charangas de Bejucal

December 24-26 Jan 1 2014 / Bejucal, Province of Mayabeque

Like many other festivals of this type in Cuba, the charangas (popular son-influenced Cuban music that began in the 1940s emphasizing flute, violin and piano orchestra) are related to Christmas celebrations, when white Catholics and black slaves would take to the streets with their musical instruments to pay tribute to their deities. Eventually, they divided into two groups: La Musicanga, which gathered the criollos (freed blacks and slaves); and Los Malayos (representing the Spaniards). Thanks to the fusion of cultures that characterizes Cuban identity, racial and class differences were lost with time, and belonging to one or another side was simply determined by each person’s preference. Rivalry between both sides today – now named La Ceiba de Plata and La Espina de Oro – consists in the ability to construct the most colourful and striking floats. The traditional music of the orchestra Los Tambores de Bejucal accompanies this festivity now attended not only by the inhabitants of the town, 20 km south of Havana, but by hundreds of visitors who enjoy the fantasy and creativity of designers, engineers, painters, musicians, choreographers, and dancers whose talent guarantees the vitality of one of the oldest popular celebrations in Cuba.