10. Christmas Isn’t Big in Cuba
One of the interesting facts about Cuba is the country didn’t consider Christmas an official holiday until 1997. The celebration was removed from the calendar in 1969. Castro thought the distraction was impeding sugar cane production, the island’s main export. Although traditionally a Christian country, Cuba was declared atheist during the revolution and so a generation or two have grown up without Christmas festivities. When he heard Pope John Paul II was planning a visit, Castro decided to allow Christmas to be observed as a national holiday once again. Today it’s a low-key celebration, with schools and businesses open as usual. This is quite different from other Latin American countries that do Navidad in a big way.