How do Christians under pressure for their faith celebrate Christmas? In the eighth in our series we hear from a Cuban church leader.

Christmas in communist Cuba is a quiet affair; you won’t hear carols in the streets or on television, except for during one concert involving the Churches that is broadcast on Christmas Day. Catholic churches may hold a Christmas Mass, and some Evangelical churches will celebrate Christmas on their own premises but not in public spaces. Other Evangelical churches don’t hold Christmas services because years of fierce government restrictions led some pastors to abandon their liturgical calendar.

Some Cuban Christians avoid celebrations of the revolution by attending all-night prayer services

For many Cubans, bigger than Christmas is the anniversary of the revolution, 1 January. So on 31 December, towns come alive with street parties and dancing. Many churches sidestep these festivities by holding all-night services.

However, Christians watch what they say, even in church. For a long time after the revolution, Christmas couldn’t even be mentioned in a church. One Cuban church leader told World Watch Monitor that nowadays such tight controls have relaxed to an extent, but “there continue to be government informants in all church services”.