December 24, 2013

Parrandas de Remedios

December 24 / Remedios, Province of Villa Clara

Legend has it that during the 1820s, a young priest officiating in Remedios—the eighth town founded by the Spaniards in Cuba—decided to have a group of children make a noise with whatever they had to hand in an effort to awaken lazy parishioners to attend mass in the chilly mornings of 24th December. From then on, neighbours would go out into the streets on the nights prior to Christmas for music and merrymaking. From 1871, a competition or “parranda” between two neighbourhoods—El Carmen and San Salvador—took place, each with its own hymn, colours, kites and lanterns. In 1875, complicated floats lit by flares and fireworks were paraded by each side at the town’s Plaza de Armas (town square). To this day, the two neighbourhoods continue with a rivalry characterized by the beauty and originality of these floats, as well as by the amazing pyrotechnics that from 9 pm on 24th December to dawn on 25th December, illuminate the city sky. Both sides keep their floats secret from each other during the course of the year with even members of the same family on either side of the fence sworn to secrecy against each other. Although these festivities have spread to other nearby localities of Guayos and Camajuaní, the Parrandas de Remedios are the oldest and most well known on the island.