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Remedios: A Land of “Parrandas”

The town of Remedios, geographically located in the central province of Villa Clara, stands out in Cuba's tourist calendar, due to its natural attractions and staying power of yesteryear cultural traditions.

Indeed, the Remedios village, eighth founded by Spanish settlers on the island back in the 16th century, provides a unique entertainment industry in the territory.

The historic center of the town, declared a National Monument in 1980, has its starting point in the current José Martí Square, formerly known as the Parish and Isabel II, flanked by beautiful flamboyant flowers, with characteristic buildings of that era, such as the house of the Alferez Real and The Arcades.

Also, it holds two churches that are unique religious exponents of their kind in the country: Our Lady of Good Voyage and the Parish of San Juan Bautista.

The latter has a gold-plated altar and a sculpture representing the pregnant Immaculate Conception, considered by specialists as an unparalleled sample worldwide.

The architecture at the heart of the villa is characterized by large portals shaped as corridors, huge windows, wrought iron and large eaves supported with very peculiar wooden brackets.

Street in Town of Remedios
Portals in town of Remedios

However, the best known element of the city is in the famous Parrandas, folk tradition that began in 1820 and subsequently spread to 17 other cities and towns of the country, as a firm attachment to traditions.

Considered the oldest in Cuba, the festivities came thanks to the work of Father Francisco Vigil de Quiñones, who officiated at the San Juan Remedios Villa Church.

The priest, disturbed by the absence of parishioners to the so-called call Rooster Mass, encouraged village boys out into the street and wake up the neighbors with the noise of whistles and cans, leaving them no choice but to leave their beds and attend the calling.

That singular and noisy initiative set roots in the population, thus resulting in one of the most attractive festivals in the country, and around 1871 it adopted the structure that essentially is still held in the streets of Remedios.

In Parrandas there´s a friendly confrontation from the neighborhoods of San Salvador, with the red-blue color and rooster as symbols, and El Carmen, with brown color and represented by the Hawk.

According to tradition, once the bells of the Parish Church announce that it is 9 p.m. on December 24, each party finds out about the creative ability of their competitors, showing a high level of commitment for an entire year in the preparation of the various elements that compete.

Floats, lanterns, fireworks, work squares and traditional music are the exposed elements designed and built in secret throughout the year by supporters of each side.

The typical music of the Parrandas is the ringing, reminiscent of the sound of the bells that called the Mass of Christmas, with the presence of instruments such as bars, bells, drums, trumpets and cowbells.

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