The Only Celebration / Fernando Dámaso

  1. Soon we will celebrate Christmas, the only celebration capable of uniting the majority of human beings, despite their ethnic, religious, political, and other differences. Increasingly, most countries embrace it as a day of love and tenderness, in a process of cultural integration, where traditions are mixed to form one, with births, illuminated trees, wreaths, Santa Claus, reindeer, sleighs, bells, snow, palm trees and everything imaginable. Here, Christian and pagan traditions form a whole, to the delight and joy of the whole family and friends.
  2. In my country it is traditionally celebrated. At first purely Christian, brought by the Spanish with cribs and Baby Jesus, and then over the years, expanded with illuminated trees and all the pagan symbolism. It went beyond the home and spread to shops, shop windows, streets, avenues and even buildings. I still remember the giant tree of lights on the front of the Havana Hilton, and the immense natural pine illuminated at the entry to Fontanar. But in the late sixties, by government decision, it was abolished on the grounds of the effort needed for the sugar harvest, and only restored when the Pope visited.
  3. Those were years of sad Decembers, trying unsuccessfully to be substitute the date of the victory of the insurrection. Even pens were complacent, writing two articles against it, denying its tradition and accusing it of being Americanized and commercial. They forgot, for convenience, that the traditions of the people are formed precisely by the addition of influences, and constitute a living process of constant renewal and enrichment, discarding the obsolete and adopting the new. Our Christmas is well-formed and, having continued without this absurd decision, now we will be like most Western countries, of which we are a part.
  4. Despite its official restoration, nothing has been officially done to revive it, quite the opposite. Shops and buildings are not decorated, let alone the streets and avenues. For the written press, radio and television, it’s as it didn’t exist, all the news is concentrated on the January victory of the Revolution. Small little islands of Christmas appear only in hotels, primarily to please tourists, and in some shops in Old Havana under the influence of the Historian of the City. Those who maintain the tradition, and try to revive it, place lit trees and nativity scenes, and we decorate our homes with garlands of lights. Although each year more people do so, we are seen as aliens. Still, neighbors who do not dare to publicly celebrate Christmas, congratulate us for doing so. It’s an interesting situation, where fear weighs more strongly than true feelings.
  5. Like every year, I will celebrate Christmas with my family and friends gracing my home and keeping it thus from the last Thursday of November until 7 January. It is a time to fully enjoy, which my neighbors would also like to be able to enjoy, think what they may. A Christmas greeting, with all its symbolism and the sum of multiple traditions, sooner or later will return to form, along with the Christmas, New Year and the Day of Kings, the most important holidays of my country. Part of the true national identity. To my readers: A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR WHERE ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.

December 14, 2010