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Las Parrandas de Remedios - Cuban Christmas Celebration

Its Christmas Eve and the two neighborhoods of the Cuban town of Remedios - San Salvador, represented by a rooster, and El Carmen, represented by a hawk - are ready to do battle. Like most conflicts, this is one over honour, but unlike any I have ever seen, this one is fought with raucous bands, huge floats and a seemingly endless supply of fireworks.

According to tradition, in the year 1820 the local priest saw a decline in Mass attendance ahead of Christmas Eve, and in order to attract worshipers, sent children into the streets to make noise to encourage the faithful to prayer. Over time this developed into Las Parrandas, a carnival-type festival which engages the whole town in a night-long festivity of sound and colour. Ironically, the religious aspect is barely seen.

I am looking forward to going back to Cuba, to be with its wonderful people, to enjoy its amazing rum and cocktails, and hopefully, celebrate Las Parrandas de Remedios again. This time, however, I will definitely be better prepared, and cover myself from the hail burning sparks and torrent of homemade fireworks that are launched from every angle.