Family and friends are very important in Cuban traditions and customs. Celebrations in Cuba for holidays typically involve large groups of people socializing together. Food is also very important in the Cuban culture, with simplicity being stressed. Weddings in Cuba are similar to those in many other Western cultures with a couple of minor differences.
Christmas traditions in Cuba revolve around gathering large numbers of family members to celebrate. These include extended families to have as large a group as possible to celebrate the holiday. Food is an important part of the Christmas tradition in Cuba. The Christmas pig must be fresh. It is traditionally caught and killed within two days of Christmas; multiple pigs are provided for large gatherings. The entire pig is then roasted to provide food for the entire family. Desserts passed on from previous generations within the family are also a tradition for Cuban Christmas celebrations. The Cuban Christmas tradition in Cuba does not include the exchange of gifts or any mention of Santa Claus.
New Year's traditions in Cuba involve a theme of doing away with the bad times from the previous year and looking forward to the good times of the new year. Symbolic of this, a doll is burned on New Year's Eve to represent the discarding of the bad times of the past year. Instead of burning a doll, some Cubans will throw water over their shoulder. Cubans celebrate New Year's with large firework displays in celebration of the good times to come.
Cuban foods are foods that are not typically written down in recipes, instead the tradition is for families to pass down recipes orally from generation to generation. Cooking styles that include complex and heavy sauces, or deep frying are not typical of Cuban cuisine. Garlic, cumin and oregano are common spices used in Cuban cooking. Using fruit juices as marinades is traditional in Cuban cuisine as well. One of the more common methods of cooking in Cuban tradition is baking.
Cuban wedding traditions are similar to some American traditions such as the money dance. Instead of presenting money to the maid of honor or another representative as is done in American weddings, at Cuban weddings those that wish to dance with the bride pin money to her dress before dancing with her. The bride and the groom thank their guests for attending the wedding by presenting them with small token gifts.
In Cuba the birthday is a very large celebration. It is not just centered around the family and the friends of the child. Coworkers of the parents, neighbors and others are invited even if they do not have any children to invite. The Cuban birthday celebration includes a lot of dancing and singing traditionally, and also includes a competition to break a pinata filled with items.