The Charangas de Bejucal

Thursday, January 25th 2024. | Cultural Traditions

At the end of every year takes place the oldest of Havanas traditional feasts, Las Charangas de Bejucal. The congas go around the locality divided in two parties including the inhabitants of the place. The town is divided into two, the red and the blue parties which establish a fraternal competition from December 3rd to January 1st. People get organized on the streets to represent their parties and create thousands of surprises to better their counter part.

The origin of the Charangas of Bejucal are back in 1840, and are related with the Christmas Day (known as Misa de Gallo). That day the black and white neighbors attended the church with rattles, seashells and bagpipes, and the free black persons or slaves participated outside with guiros, containers with shells and drums beats. It gradually became a laic feast.

The large coach is essential part of the feast and they represent either one or another of the parties. At the beginning they were taken in peoples shoulders, as in the religious processions. They were illuminated with candles. Afterwards they were pull by oxen and illuminated with carbide.

The parties also have changed their names to The Scorpion and the Rooster, and later on to The Silver Ceiba and the Golden Thorn. The large coaches were modified in the 20th century. Iron chassis were adapted with wheels. They maintained the surprise (stages elevate from inside the vehicle up to 23 meters high) The Charangas also have typical characters of popular creation which give beauty and color to the activity.

They identify the inhabitants of the town. The most admired are La Macorina, a man dressed as a woman, Trapitos, the Boyera and the Yerbero which are easily reproduced by children. The Charangas, the Carnival in Santiago de Cuba and the Parrandas of Remedio, are three of the feasts with the most profound roots in the Cuban culture.

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