A of his shirt. It as a very characteristic

A piece of clothing that is synonymous with Cuba is “la
guayabera”. Although the exact origin is not known, the generally most accepted
story is that it originated in the Cuban countryside in the 1800s. The story
tells that a farmer always had difficulty carrying small fruits back from the
field to the house (such as guavas, hence its name) and his wife solved this
problem by sewing large pockets to the front of his shirt. It as a very
characteristic design, two or four pockets on the front of the shirt adorned by
buttons and two rows of pleats or embroidery that run on top of the pockets on
both sides of the chest and it runs from the shoulder to the waist; it also has
a straight hem, so it is meant to be worn untucked. Because of its deep roots
in Cuban history this shirt design is considered today formal and it is
considered appropriate in weddings and official meetings.

 

The traditional article of clothing that women wear is
called “bata cubana”. Although it is very similar to the traditional dress of
several Latin countries, it stands out from the others because of its Spanish
influenced design, and its colors very reminiscent of African culture. It is
made of light fabric to conform with the very hot weather in the island, tight
to the body, very long, and it has wide arms adorned with brightly colored lace
or tulle. Thanks to the iconic singer Celia Cruz, the Cuban culture has been on
the spotlight since the last century, to the point that one of her dresses (a
“bata cubana”) is part of the Smithsonian collection today.  

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The “sombrero de yarey” is a ubiquitous accessory in Cuba,
if you have ever been to the island chances are you have seen an old man wear
this hat at least once during your staying there. Being an agricultural
country, most of its population in the early days of Cuba as a nation were
farmers. Being in the field all day meant they were exposed to the Caribbean
sun for at least eight hours a day, the solution to this was a hat. It was
going to be worn all day, so it had to be lightweight and breathable, which led
to it being made out of guano fiber. Today it is still worn by Cubans old and
young, whether it is for aesthetic or practical reasons, and it is a must have
item for any tourists that visit the island.

 

The Cuban flag besides being a very beautiful one, it is
also full of history and meaning. It was designed by Narciso Lopez, a
Venezuelan General who wanted to free Cuba from Spanish occupation and annex it
to the United States. The three blue stripes represented the three regions in
which the country was divided, the white represented the purity of their
ideals, the red the willingness to spill blood for the cause, and the star was
added because it was meant to be one more star from the American flag (another
state). Even though it was created in 1849 and used in battles during the war
for independence, it was officially adopted on May 20 of 1902, when the war was
over and Cubans declared independence from the Spanish occupation.

The Cuban shield of arms was designed by Miguel Teurbe
Tolón, a Cuban poet who was also a co-designer of the Cuban flag. It was
designed in 1849, it was adopted in 1906. The shield is divided into three main
parts, each of them having a carefully selected composition. On the top there
is a key in the blue sea between two rocks and a rising sun behind them, Cuba
is represented by the key, since it has a privileged position in exactly the
middle of the sea close to several nations and strategic trade routes, the two
rocks represent Florida and the Yucatan peninsula, and the rising sun was a
promise of the birth of a new nation. The left side has blue and white stripes,
making allegory to the Cuban flag. The right side has a royal palm tree and
some mountains, a typical Cuban landscape. On the sides of the shield there are
an oak branch and a laurel wreath, which represent strength and honor,
respectively. Finally on the top it has a red Phrygian cap, which symbolizes
liberty.

The Cuban national anthem was composed by Perucho Figueredo
on august 14 of 1867 after a meeting to discuss the Cuban independentist
movement that was about to start. From then on, the melody was hummed by all
residents of the city of bayamo where the composer was from until finally in
may 8 of 1968, during a town meeting behind the San Salvador de Bayamo Church,
Perucho Figueredo wrote the lyrics to the now iconic song of freedom while
sitting on a horse. When it was first composed it had six verses, but since it
was too long, today they only sing the first two.