Although I will say, now as a Cuban-American adult, I ask (beg) for our Thanksgiving Dinner to be the ONE day we give up arroz blanco and instead enjoy sweet potato casserole along with other Thanksgiving sides.
My argument is that we enjoy Cuban food 364 days a year, so why not enjoy something different one day?! Mami doesn’t really care for the idea but obliges because she loves me.
Anyways, when it comes to the holiday season, Cuban Christmas aka Noche Buena is truly where we shine!
What is Noche Buena?
Noche Buena is Christmas Eve in Spanish which translates to “Good Night”. And that it is, my friends! As in most Cuban families, our holidays revolve around traditional Cuban food.
On Noche Buena, we cook up a storm, open gifts at midnight, party for hours into the morning, and wake up on December 25th only to enjoy leftovers. It’s a nostalgic time to see extended family you haven’t seen all year and laugh at all your childhood memories together.
Cuban Christmas Food
The main course for Cuban Noche Buena always includes lechon asado (Cuban roast pork), frijoles negros with rice or moros, yuca con mojo which turned into yuca frita the next day, and platanos maduros.
As a kid, I remember my uncle would lay the pig completely sliced open on the table and marinate it with mojo criollo. The pig would then roast for hours in la caja china which is a large box, sometimes made of wood, commonly used to make tender, slow-roasted pork. IT IS DELICIOUS!
Family and food were always at the root of our Cuban traditions. This is how we create memories and stay connected with one another. It’s my favorite time of year!
Feel free to add any of the following recipes to your Christmas Dinner celebrations this year and create Cuban Christmas traditions of your own!