Why the Castro dictatorship took Christmas away from Cubans

Communism abhors joy as much as it does religious faith. It prefers people who are miserable and who have no faith that can provide them with hope. The hopeless and miserable are a lot easier to control than those who are happy and have faith in a better life. And that’s exactly what Fidel Castro set out to accomplish when he took Christmas away from the Cuban people.

Via CiberCuba (my translation):

Why was Christmas taken away from us in Cuba?

An analysis by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo over the decision that changed a centuries-old tradition.

During a live morning broadcast on CiberCuba, prominent Cuban intellectual Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo tackled a question that resonates in the nation’s collective memory: Why was Christmases taken away from us in Cuba? His analysis provides a profound perspective on this pivotal episode in Cuban history.

Pardo Lazo began his dissertation by pointing out that the origin of this cultural transformation dates back to the establishment of communism on the island. However, he focused his analysis on a specific moment: Fidel Castro’s speech on January 2, 1969. In this address, Castro introduced what seemed to be a temporary measure linked to the 10-million-ton sugar harvest, an ambitious project aimed at boosting the Cuban economy.

The intellectual highlighted Fidel Castro’s peculiar nature as a speaker. “He didn’t give speeches; he conversed with the people,” said Pardo Lazo, emphasizing how Castro, through a colloquial and humorous tone, managed to communicate significant changes in Cuban tradition and politics.

According to Pardo Lazo, Castro used the metaphor of “acting like children” to justify the suspension of Christmas celebrations. The reason given was that, given the focus on the sugar harvest and the need to “take the country out of underdevelopment,” it was not prudent to “demobilize the workers.” Thus, the extended family of the revolution took precedence over traditional family gatherings.

Pardo Lazo also pointed out the irony that the suspension of Christmas, initially presented almost as a joke, became an official decree. Over time, celebrating Christmas in Cuba became a counter-revolutionary act, a stigma that persisted until the visit by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

Pardo Lazo did not just narrate the events but also addressed the social and cultural repercussions of this decision. In the 1960s, many families faced persecution and social exclusion for maintaining Christmas traditions, a clear manifestation of how the government sought to replace religious and cultural identity with revolutionary ideology.

The analysis concluded by reflecting on how, after six decades, neither the development promised by Castro’s “machines” nor the stolen traditions have been reclaimed. Pardo Lazo closed with a powerful symbolic image: a graffiti representing the three Wise Men, highlighting the inclusion of a black King, a clear nod to diversity and the nation’s history.

1 thought on “Why the Castro dictatorship took Christmas away from Cubans”

Leave a Comment