The Regla Conga or Palo Monte

This religious expression in has its roots in the cults practiced in the kingdom of Congo and other subordinated monarchies of Bantu origin. The western ethnology gathered under the same denomination the community of peoples from western, central and south Africa, that spoke that language in any of its forms. It is also known as Mayombe.

This regla (norm or rule) is the result of a process of cross over of the Bantu creeds in the Cuban society, where other forms also emerged, as the Kimbisa and the Brillumba up to the Kimbisa of the Nice Trip Holy Christ (Kimbisa del Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje), organized by Andrés Facundo de los Dolores Petit, in the 19th century.

A characteristic feature of this rule is the link with the natural forces. It is considered that some elements as the vegetation are animated by the spirits, who also reside in the depth of the earth. The ancestors are represented in the water. The center of the ceremony is the Nganga, recipient where is supposed to be the soul of the dead submitted to the initiated will through a pact nourishing both of them.

The possession of the Nganga or prenda (credit) give the possibility to make an unlimited use of it, since it is the distinguishing element of the top hierarchy. The Tata Nganga or TataNkisi is the one tha can make the ceremonies of rayamiento (initiation) and gather around him a group of religious persons.

The Tata is supported by lower hierarchies of consecrated persons, as the Bakofula ayonfombe and the Ngueyo, who with the other “ahijados” (godchildren) conform the House. This structure is autonomous in the celebration of its ritual and ceremonies.

The graphic sacred symbols (signs) have an important place in the Regla de Palo. They are used to identify the spirits of the ancestors and the orishas to whom is request the permission to celebrate the diverse ceremonies of the cult. In the Kimbisa cult there is a strong syncretism and tolerance between the Congo element, the Regla de Ochathe Spiritismthe Catholicism, and the secret masculine society Abakuá. They took the concepts related to the nganga from the religion of Bantu origin, the animism of the plants, the water and the earth, as well as the influence of the spirits of the ancestors. It is possible to find orisha from the Ocha but under different names (Elggua is Lucero MundoYemaya is Tiembla Tierra; Oya is Centella)

The assimilation of the use of the coconut shell in the divination process, and the believe of feeding and strengthening the prenda with blood. It takes the direct assimilation of the spirits from Spiritism, based on the idea that everything happening in earth it is ruled by external forces.

The influence of Catholicism is present in the worship to the holy spirit and the use of the cross and prays of the catholic ritual. Besides, the main guide of the followers of the Kimbisa is Saint Luis Beltrán. The abbakuá element is in the method to select the applicants. The practice of the Regla de Ocha or Mayombe have been name as sorcery, due to the lack of information about it.

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It is said that when Olofi wanted to create the World, came down with Obatalá. During the process of creation, marvellous things were made, but also many others failed, and some others were left unfinished.

For instance he made men without heads, and all were running without a direction, the world was upside down. Olofi got very angry and asked Oddua to make the mens heads. He did it, but only put them one eye and no mouth.

It was Iba-Ibo who put mens eyes and mouth in his present position and also provided men with voice and words. Oddúa is a major dead representing the secrets and mysteries of death. Although he owns the solitude, he is always accompanied by his brothers Oddun and Orula.

His wife named Odduaremu is syncretized as Saint Ana, the heeler of the moribund persons and the auxiliary of the pregnant women in the delivery. It is also considered a path of Obatalá. It can be the oldest of all, the one who created with his wife the seventeen obatalas. It is seen as the creator of justice, a divine and impersonal and element.

He is an orisha for babalawos, but no for santeros. Thursday is his day and white, red and black are his colors.

In the Catholicism is syncretized in the Name of Jesus and the Holy Sacrament.

The likeness between Oddua and Jesus seems to be in the fact that both were send by the Divinity to help men. He was the first king of Oyó and major dead. He founded with Oggún the Benin and Oyó dynasty. It is also considered the first King of the Yorubas and the Ifé. He represents the mysteries and secrets of death: In the cult of the Arará it is called Odduá Daa. Thursday is his day.

Receptacle: A locked silver coffer that should never be opened. It is covered with cotton and a white linen, it lives in high positions, because it should not be exposed to the sunlight.

Attributes: The tools of Yembó with the cane, a cedar coffin with a little skeleton inside, eight little canes as the ones of Obbatalá, eight circles, eight little triangular shield, another larger triangular shield with an eye in the middle, a ladder of eight steps, a snake, Obbatalas set of tools, a man, a woman, eight white Otas, an ivory ball, a nacre ball, two hands of 18 shells each, eight used dice.

Necklace: 18 inches long, made of nacre and coral beads, and 16 white beads every 8 red ones.

Sacrificed animals: Oddú and Obbatala eat together, but Oddúa does it with the coffer closed. The blood is received by the coffer and the Obbatalás shells, who eats the same.

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The Son de la Ma Teodora

A great mystery is around the popular Son de la Ma Teodora (Mum Teodoras Son). Some researchers affirm there is no document to testify its real existence and origin, and some others support the idea that it is a functional piece of the popular Cuban music.

Nevertheless, it has been accepted as the most ancient musical piece in Cuba, perhaps due to the desire to preserve the myth, despite the prevailing questions about its existence. The piece is supported by the story of two sisters named Teodora and Micaela Ginés, originally form Santo Domingo.

They established in Cuba and made one of the most popular bands at that time.

The band was formed by Pascual Ochoa from Seville, Pedro Amanza from Malaga and the Portuguese Jácome Viceira, along with the Ginés sisters. The well known novelist Alejo Carpentier discovered in the Son de la Ma Teodora valuable elements of the history of the Cuban music and the process of cultural assimilation, were Spanish melodies and instruments mixed with reminiscences of the ancient oral African traditions.

The son was performed in popular parties where its rhythm was well accepted. ¿Dónde está la Ma Teodora?/ Rajando la leña está/ ¿Dónde está que no la veo? / Rajando la leña está. Ma Teodora had assimilated the rhythms of the eastern part of the island reproducing them with a mixture of the Spanish couplet.

A curious detail is the fact that the bandore this woman played was the bridge instrument between the Spanish guitar and the Cuban tres, essential instrument to play the son and other Cuban rhythms.

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Between the decades of the twenties and the fifties a dance style and song original from Cuba and the Spanish Antilles achieved great popularity and it was called Guaracha.

There is an antecedent in the 18th Century, when it was created as a dance accompanied by a quatrain lyric.

Guaracha is characterized by a dialogue between the soloist and the chorus that has been related with previous forms of African rhythms. The topics deal with picaresque and popular notes.

The most frequent instruments in the guaracha music are the guiro, the tres, the Spanish guitar and the maracas.

Today versions are accompanied by clave, bongos and cowbell. Cuban artists Ã‘ico Saquito and Celia Cruz are among its most relevant exponents.

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Ochosi (Santiago Archangel), son of Yemaya, is a major orisha. He is the patron of those in trouble with justice; he is magician, fortune teller, warrior, fisherman and hunter.

When invoked he is called as Ochosi Ode Mata, and he is the owner of the skins. Tuesdays are his days, the same as Oggun, but attentions are granted on Mondays, together with Eleggua and Oggun. His festivity is celebrated every November 9th. Ebbó can be made with Ochosi, in order to success a surgery, because he has a great relationship with Abbata, who plays the roll of the nurse of Inle (doctor of the Orishas).

He is the best hunter. He never fails when hunting, and knows the woodland as much as Eleggua and Oggun. There was a time when the thickness of the woodland prevented him to reach his prey.

Desperate by this situation he consulted Orula, who commanded him to make Ebbó. Ochosi and Oggun were enemy because Echu had sowed discord between them, but both were in similar troubles. Although Oggun was very fast laying his way between the weeds, animals always heard him and run away.

Oggun also had consulted Orula getting the same answer from him. Thus each one was by their account in the woodland doing Ebbó when they met and started to talk.

They shared their problems and established a friendship. While they talked, they glimpsed a deer in the distant. Quickly, Ochosi threw one of his arrows which pierced the neck of the animal killing it. “You already see “he sighed” I have killed it but the thickness prevents me to reach it “.

Then Oggun took his machete and quickly opened a way between them and the deer. Very content both of them reached the animal and shared it. Since then they made a pact at the house of Orula, in which they expressed that one without the other were nothing, and they needed mutually to live.

Thats why Ochosi, the hunter, always walks with Oggun, the owner of irons. Their children are the prototype of primitive hunter, fast men, always kind, lovers of change and new ventures.

Receptacle: Lives next to Oggun, in the same iron pan, separate them only in extreme case.

Attributes: All instrument related to hunting and fishing, hunting trophies, spouses.

Necklace: Dark blue beads and a single amber (or chorale) bead between sections.

Sacrificed animals: The same of Oggun.

Animals offered to him: Goat, chickens, doves, jutías, quail, any hunted bird, guinea- hen.

Ebbó: Work of Santería. Ceremony that can be of offering, sacrifice or purification. The Ebbos are for refreshing, to compliment, to win the love of the Orishas for the simplest questions, from a bath with flowers and grass, to lighting candies for the deities.

This work is focused to make the good and persons dont need to be initiated in the religion to make it.

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Rumba and Guaguanco

Typical of the transculturation process that took place in Cuba, in the 19th Century, a mixture of black people music with that of Spanish origin occurred.

Rumba evolved in the western part of the country, shaped by three fundamental variants: Yambu, and Columbia in the rural areas of Matanzas and Guaguanco in Havana City.

It features a dance without limitations to be performed but it is mainly a black people dance. Guaguanco is the most complicated in its music and in its lyrics. Although it can be paradoxical, its lyrics are completely in Spanish language without any African or marginal expressions.

Guaguanco tempo is slightly slower than that of the Columbia and faster than Yambu. Those who dance Guaguanco move to the rhythm of the percussion instruments surrounded by a chorus that is conducted by a soloist and make a choreography highly charged with eroticism.

Despite being a black people rhythm, Guaguanco has Spanish influences in their lyrics, especially, its flamenco and decima expressions.

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It is a controversial Cuban popular rhythm, whose origins come from the racial prejudices against the Afro-Cuban cultural expressions of the 19th Century.

Timba came after the proliferation of “new rhythms” in the sixties (Pachanga, Pilon, Mozambique, etc). Cuban musical innovator Juan Formell began to introduce structural and rhythmical changes within is musical group Los Van Van, combining elements from Afro-Cuban music with others from pop music of African-American origin and from some other Latin and Caribbean genres.

One of the obstacles Timba had to overcome in its first years was the mass media censorship to its lyrics that always have reflected the reality of popular neighborhoods.

This identification with the audience is exactly the key of its success that achieved its greatest splendor during the eighties and nineties.

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Welcome to the Cuba Traditions Website

Cuban traditions are rich in part due to the racial mix which brings together religions, music, arts, cultures, foods, drinks and more from several places f the world. In this site we will guide you to explore the diversity of the Cuban Traditions.

The ethnic symbiosis that took place in Cuba from the time of the Spanish colonization when Spaniards mixed with natives of the island and later, with black slaves brought from Africa, gave place to a new individual, the Creole. This was the name of a new human being, native of this land that emerged as a result of a transculturation process when Cuban native race already became extinct.

For that reason, the Cuban people are so genuine; their idiosyncrasy took root in themselves since the birth of their genes. There are countless qualities characterizing the sons of this land, they are enterprising, optimist, hospitable, talkative, modest and charismatic people.

The mixing of cultures that occurred in Cuba not only brought about the physiognomic miscegenation, but also, different customs, traditions, myths and legends that Cuban people adopted and enriched with his own daily experience and his unique creative fantasy throughout this more than five centuries of existence.

Recent Articles:
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Cuba Culture News

Calle 13 and Buena Fe Celebrate Anniversary of Caracas
Wed, 2010-07-28 22:40
Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 and Cuban group Buena Fe will join their voices next Saturday to celebrate the 443rd founding anniversary of this city, during a concert at a central square of the capital.

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Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro, Legendary Cuban Son Septet to U.S. Tour
Sun, 2010-07-25 22:43
Back by popular demand: Cuba’s legendary Septeto Nacional to embark on second US tour in September 2010 Tour promotes September Album of Sin Rumba, No hay Son from Harmonia Mundi, World Village Records New York, NY.

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Artists See an Increase in U.S.-Cuba Cultural Exchanges
Sun, 2010-07-25 01:20
HAVANA — The venue is undistinguished: a cramped theater tucked beneath a downtown apartment block. Tickets cost just five Cuban pesos, or 23 cents. The set, for want of wood, is a beautiful creation of string.

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New film by Remi Bezancon with scene shot in Havana
Fri, 2010-07-23 23:03
Bezancon, a graduate from ESRA (Higher School of Audiovisual Production) in Paris, has directed two films: Ma vie en l\’air (2005) (My life in the air) and ‘Le premier jour du reste de ta vie’ (2008) (The First Day of the Rest of Your Life), and he will direct ‘Zarafa’ this year.

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Cuban Short Competes in Brazilian Festival
Thu, 2010-07-22 22:50
The animated film “Veinte Años” (Twenty Years) by Barbaro Joel Ortiz is competing in Brazil’s Anima Mundi International Festival, together with 100 productions from all five continents.

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Experience the Sounds of Cuba at Oakland’s City Center Plaza
Wed, 2010-07-21 15:07
July’s third Summer Sounds concert will feature the Cuban rhythms of a well-renowned artist who’s a native of the country.

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Hemingway in Cuba
Sat, 2010-07-17 22:52
This July 21st, Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961) would have been 111 years old, characterized by incredible dynamics and adventures that are almost a legend.

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Carmen Ballet in polemic version
Sat, 2010-07-17 00:07
Polemic and audacious has been the premiere of the Camagüey Endedans Contemporary Ballet, which transforms the famous piece “Carmen” into a scenario of current debate of the sexual preferences.

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Paulito FG on national tour “Sin Etiqueta”
Wed, 2010-07-14 22:51
Pablo Fernández Gallo (Paulito FG) confirmed that he will start a national tour on July 15th to raise funds for art education and promote his new album “Sin Etiqueta”.

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The Afro-Cuban jazz of Chucho Valdés leaves a mark in Madrid
Mon, 2010-07-12 23:04
The pianist Cuban Chucho Valdés offered a great recital at the Sabatini Gardens in Madrid and took advantage to show his last work Chucho´s Steps together with the Afrocuban Messengers, the new band of the Cuban maestro who with his 68 years old managed to receive the applause and the smile of the public.

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Ernesto Blanco Conquers Kilometer Zero
Sun, 2010-07-11 22:59
There isn’t greater joy for a writer or artist than seeing his first work published. That satisfaction lives these days in the instrumentalist, arranger, and composer Ernesto Blanco, one of the youngest figures in the Cuban pop music panorama.

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‘La Visita de la Vieja Dama’ at the Goodman: First time in U.S., a story about a homecoming — maybe to Cuba
Fri, 2010-07-09 23:16
The first United States performance, en masse, by the leading theater company in Cuba took place at the Goodman Theatre on Thursday night.

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Chinese Folkloric Musical Group Performed in Havana
Wed, 2010-07-07 22:56
The Folkloric Music Group of the Traditional Orchestra of Aihua de Shenzhen made a masterly performance at the Covarrubias hall of Havana´s National Theater.

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Chicago in Havana: Razzle Dazzle
Sun, 2010-07-04 23:19
Chicago in Havana: Razzle Dazzle. Mefisto Teatro comes back to call those faithful to music theater with the announcement of its coming premiere.

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Cuban Pianist Frank Fernández Pays Due Tribute to Schumann
Sat, 2010-07-03 22:37
After honoring the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Chopin, Cuban pianist Frank Fernández pays tribute to German composer Robert Schumann, whose 200th birth anniversary is also in 2010 but the celebration has not been duly remembered.

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Silver Sculptures by Cuban Artists Available Online
Wed, 2010-06-30 22:41
Pauyet works of art by a local group of silversmiths named Pauyet, from the province of Ciego de Avila, were available as of last week in a virtual gallery at Pauyet´s artists turn flatware (forks, spoons and knives) into authentic works of art.

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Brilliant performance by Carlos Acosta in Japan
Sat, 2010-06-26 22:34
Monica Mason, director of the Royal Ballet said it is a pride of her company to have the presence of Carlos Acosta, the Cuban dancer, who was presented yesterday at the Tokyo Bunka Kankan Great Theater of Japan.

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Teatro Buendia with Goodman Production
Fri, 2010-06-25 23:30
I was interviewing a Cuban director named Flora Lauten, and a writer named Raquel Carrio, over the telephone.

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Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club to miss U.S. show
Thu, 2010-06-24 23:52
HAVANA (Reuters) – The first of three U.S. concerts scheduled by Cuban band Buena Vista Social Club has been canceled because of a delay in getting U.S. visas, their U.S. lawyer said on Thursday.

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French Filmmaker to Film in Havana
Wed, 2010-06-23 23:12
Remy Bezancon, director of film “El primer dia del resto de tu vida” (The First Day of the Rest of Your Life), which participates at the 13th French Film Festival in Cuba, affirmed he’d film part of his next film in Havana.

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A Guateque Campesino

This is the celebration of the people living in the Cuban countryside, where the farmers tunes sound with the conspiracy of typical instruments as the tres, the laúd, the güiro and the guitar.

These parties include dances as the zapateo and duos of singers who improvise the lyrics of a song causing the delight of the participants. The guateque campesino is the natural form in which a group of friends and neighbors meet to celebrate either the end of the harvest or a family commemoration.

It is common to see a singer improvising décimas as lyrics of a song, and couples dancing the zapateo, although the latter have been recently substituted by the son. This Cuban musical genre is also well known internationally in themes as “Píntate los labios María”, by Eliades Ochoa.

The classic invitation of the roasted pork in the grill, casabe with mojo, black beans and white rice, accompanied by the ever present beer and the rum. It could be also the saoco, consisting in a drink made of coconut milk and aguardiente that cheers the guateque until late night.

Justo Vega and Adolfo Alfonso made the controversies very famous in the national scene. At the end, a good guateque has for sure a touch of creole coffee to finish the dinner with music in the Cuban countryside.

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