Cuba is one place where the law fought Christmas, and Christmas won. In 1969, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro decided the country couldn't afford for Cubans to take the day off during the all-important sugar harvest, so he banned Christmas as a public holiday. The edict lasted for three decades. Yoani Sánchez, FP contributor and award-winning Cuban blogger, remembers growing up during the ban: "Of all the naughty words and phrases I remember from childhood, two stand out as being particularly taboo: ‘Christmas' and ‘Human Rights.'"
In 1998, thanks largely to pressure from the Vatican, the communist government restored Christmas. Not everyone embraced the change. In December 1998, one Cuban newspaper warned its readers to beware of Santa Claus, whom its editors, anticipating Hugo Chávez's position years later, called a symbol of American "consumerism," "cultural hegemony," and "mental colonization." Santa, who one newspaper called "The leading symbol of the hagiography of US mercantilism," bore the brunt of the abuse. (Some of the opposition to American Christmas tradition was more practical: According to one columnist, Christmas trees and artificial snow were inappropriate in a tropical country.)
Today, according to Sánchez, Cuban government institutions mostly remain undecorated during the holiday season, but many in this deeply Catholic country now celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm, decorating their homes and shops with garlands, lights, small plastic trees and images of Santa Claus. "These visual excesses of today are very likely the popular response to all those Christmas eves celebrated in whispers, or totally ignored," she writes.
If even a totalitarian communist government can't defeat Christmas, we probably don't have much to fear from the liberal secular agenda.
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