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Social Life in Cuba

The social life in Cuba is immersed in traditional Cuban culture of music and dance.  People often gather around the traditional Cuban cuisine, or share an afternoon at a sporting event.  In this social context, Cubans immerse themselves in a very informal, laidback environment.  As is common of a people under constant watch of the government, Cubans find great satisfaction in the relaxed Image 2environment of a social context.

In a social setting, the use of compañero/compañera has almost entirely replaced the more formal senor/senora.  This does not apply when speaking to elderly or strangers, where Cubans use formal speech as a sign of respect. Though, most recently, there is a trend of using informalities such as mi corzón,(my heart) mi vida (my life), or cariño (dear) when addressing strangers.  These terms tend to put people at ease and makes people very comfortable in their initial greetings. Image 1


They always greet and farewell with a handshake, and often exchange friendly hugs with friends.  Family members exchange hugs and kisses on the cheek when greeting each other. 

In traditional Cuba, men and women interacted under a hierarchical relationship, but since the 1960’s and the rise of Marxism, an egalitarian system has become the central focus. In adherence to the traditional standards, men initiate the first date and pay for the bill.  It is very uncommon for a woman to ask a man out to dinner, but if the two are in a long-term relationship, a couple will often split the bill.  Men and women are very informal in other aspects of dating, and are often exchanging much flirtatious physical contact.  This is a common effect of the environment that tends to focus on dancing where touch becomes an important factor of the social interaction.

Children are taught to spend part of their day in social activities outside the classroom.  This stresses the importance of a physically as well as mentally active education. An example of a social activity for a child is to help the parents with labor outside the household, such as working in a family garden or in the fields.  A side effect is that it teaches youth the importance of the Cuban cultural traditions, along with establishing a positive environment for social interaction.

References:

Luis, William. Culture and Customs of Cuba. London: Greenwood Press, 2001.


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