Gathering the Faithful in Remedios
In 1820 Father Francisco Vigil de Quiñones was worried about the dwindling numbers of parishioners at the Christmas season midnight masses. In an effort to “drum” up attendance, he devised a plan which would eventually become the oldest festival in all of Cuba: Las Parrandas de Remedios.
Image: Las Parrandas Festival; lezumbalaberenjena, Flickr
Every December the residents of the small town of Remedios, Cubans come together to reenact and honor the actions of the legendary priest. It seems the father, faced with poor church attendance during the holiday season, hired groups of young children to attract the attention of the city’s parishioners. With pots, pans, tin plates, rattles and other noise makers, the youth headed out into the alleyways of Remedios clamoring, shouting, banging and urging the faithful to return to church.
Today, Las Parrandas de Remedios is a carnival-like street party with bands, elaborate floats and fireworks. While the Parrandas celebration is held throughout the island country, the most famous festivities remain in the city of Remedies where the tradition began. On December 24, the spectacle culminates with a huge battle of the bands where groups from the San Salvador and El Carmen neighborhoods vie to be the loudest band in honor of the father’s Christmas miracle.
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