Feast of Saint Nicholas
Sacred Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Saint Nicholas of Myra
he Feast of St. Nicolas holds immense religious significance for the Greek Orthodox community, and it is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion across the globe. One remarkable celebration takes place in the San Nicolas Cathedral, situated in the heart of Old Havana, Cuba. As a member of the Greek Orthodox community in the United States, we cordially invite all fellow members to partake in this extraordinary celebration and immerse themselves in the unique cultural and religious traditions of the Cuban Greek Orthodox community.
The San Nicolas Cathedral, also referred to as the Iglesia de San Nicolás, stands as the focal point of the Greek Orthodox community in Havana. Consecrated in 2004, the cathedral boasts intricate details, awe-inspiring stained glass windows, and exquisite frescoes that eloquently depict the life of Saint Nicolas.
Participating in the Feast of St. Nicolas at the San Nicolas Cathedral presents a distinctive experience that artfully blends religious rituals with Cuban traditions. The festivities commence with a solemn liturgy, followed by a processional of the icon of St. Nicolas throughout the church, accompanied by hymns and prayers. After the liturgy, the community gathers for a feast where they indulge in traditional Cuban dishes alongside Greek delicacies. This occasion presents a splendid opportunity to connect with the Cuban Greek Orthodox community, embracing their vibrant culture and heartfelt hospitality.
Attending the Feast of St. Nicolas in the San Nicolas Cathedral encompasses more than mere participation in religious rituals; it encompasses the chance to immerse oneself in the rich history and cultural traditions of Cuba. Havana, the captivating capital city of Cuba, has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is renowned for its breathtaking architecture, lively music, and vibrant culture. The city emanates a unique charm that captivates visitors from all corners of the globe. By partaking in this celebration, members of the Greek Orthodox community in the United States will also have the opportunity to experience the warmth and genuine hospitality of the Cuban people.
Despite its small size, the Greek Orthodox community in Havana thrives vibrantly, deeply rooted in their faith and traditions. They welcome visitors with open arms and are eager to share their customs and culture. The Feast of St. Nicolas serves as an occasion to forge connections with this community and gain insights into their way of life. Additionally, it presents an opportunity to bridge gaps between different communities, fostering cultural exchange and nurturing understanding.
In conclusion, I wholeheartedly extend an invitation to members of the Greek Orthodox community in the United States, urging them to partake in the celebration of the Feast of St. Nicolas at the San Nicolas Cathedral in Havana, Cuba. This remarkable event provides a unique avenue to connect with the Cuban Greek Orthodox community, immerse oneself in their rich culture and traditions, and honor the life and legacy of Saint Nicolas. Let us come together with open hearts and minds, rejoicing in our shared faith and traditions
Day 1 -
Depart Fort Lauderdale International Airport
Depart Fort Lauderdale international Airport for Cuba
Southwest Flight #3924
Depart: Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) 9:25am
Arrive: Havana, Cuba (HAV) 10:50am
Vedado and Havana Moderna visits
The morning starts with a visit to Plaza de la Revolucion or Revolution Square followed by a visit of the Vedado district which highlights the architecture of the area, drive by the Mane monument, and the Malecon, Coppelia park the Havana Libre hotel, and the Rampa district. The group will visit the farmers market and other places of interest in Havana where they will have the opportunity to interact with the Cuban people.
Lunch at El Aljibe
The nearly 69-year old secret chicken recipe developed in the 1940s has drawn the likes of Jack Nicholson, Matt Dillon and former President Jimmy Carter. El Aljibe is one of the busiest restaurants in Havana, especially during lunchtime and is run by Sergio Garcia Macias who, with his brother Pepe, opened their first restaurant in 1947. Named Rancho Luna, located in the countryside west of Havana, El Aljibe predecessor closed down in the early 1960s. When asked to help revive Rancho Luna in the 1990’s, Sergio agreed to open it under a new name, El Aljibe, and at a new location in the city’s busy Playa neighborhood. Here you will enjoy delicious Cuban creole cuisine in a country-like setting where you simply must have the world-famous chicken.
Check Into Hotel
Check into your Hotel
Dinner at Casa Mia
Casa Mia is a small family restaurant that had a dream and it had come true. With a great view of the Malecon, they offer great food and one of the best customer service in Havana. You can taste delicious drinks and food at completely reasonable prices.
Day 2 -
Walking tour of the Four Plazas
The Four Plazas; a magical journey through five centuries of history and architecture that culminate to comprise Cuba’s first of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites – “La Habana Vieja” or Old Havana. The tour takes you on a stroll through the four main plazas, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and Plaza de la Catedral, giving you an insight to the truly magnificent and powerful place Cuba held in the Caribbean for centuries. You’ll see colonial fortresses and opulent palaces highlighting the majestic architecture spanning from Spanish Colonial to Neoclassical interspersed with a mix of Baroque. Old Havana is packed with churches, cathedrals and monuments, as well as a homogeneous ensemble of private houses with arcades, balconies, wrought iron gates and internal courtyards -- many evocatively time worn, but many restored to their original majesty. The plazas host outdoor cafes, bars and restaurants where live music is always playing, as well as art galleries and quaint shops that can range from touristic items to hand crafted gourmet chocolates and exotic spices. You will want to return to explore La Habana Vieja on our own to explore and discover its magic and mystery for yourself.
Lunch at Doña Eutimia
Enjoy Lunch in a small place a few steps from the Cathedral Square, on the Callejon del Chorro and beside the Graphics Workshop. Doña Eutimia that offers exquisite creole food, unforgettable black beans accompanied with fried pork chops, makes this small space an experience you will not forget.
Return to the Hotel
Hierarchical Vespers of the Patronal Feast of Saint Nicholas.
Join the congregation of the Sacred Greek Orthodox Cathedral Saint Nicholas of Myra, to experience the Solemn and Hierarchical Vespers of the Patronal Feast of Saint Nicholas.
Dinner at Los Mercaderes Paladar
In Old Havana "Los Mercaderes" paladar, combines the atmosphere of a typical colonial house (the tainted glasses, murals & frescoes, and original XIX century floors) with an excellent variety of plates coming from traditional to international with a special emphasis on fresh seafood.
Day 3 -
Celebrate the Liturgy at Saint Nicolas,
Depart for Saint Nicolas de Mira Cathedral to celebrate the Liturgy at Saint Nicolas, the first religious structure to be built in all of Cuba in 43 years, it is set in an exquisite location - the port side of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. Meet local parishioners.
Enjoy the Community Agape
After the Divine Liturgy for the Patronal Feast of Saint Nicholas, enjoy an Agape with the congregation of Saint Nicolas de Myra. This is a joyous occasion allowing the members of the church to meet and enjoy a meal together.
Free time to explore Old Havana
After the community Agape you will have some free time to explore Old Havana You can revisit the plazas or the nearby Craft Market. They will be Staff members available to assist you.
Return to the Hotel
Farewell Dinner at San Cristobal
Set in an early 20th Century mansion in the “Centro Habana” district of the city, San Cristobal Paladar is probably, the best restaurant in Havana. Restaurateur and Executive Chef, Carlos Cristobal Marquez, has created a uniquely engaging ambience within a cluttered, but warm, eclectic décor; each room offering a journey through a particularly iconic aspect of Cuban culture. The cuisine, Cuban Creole with a very refined and international twist, has a five-star rating by many international food critics and was enjoyed by President Barack Obama and his family during their recent visit to Havana.
Day 3 - Tuesday, December 6th
Day 4 - Wednesday, December 7th
Transfer to Jose Marti International Airport
Depart Havana for Fort Lauderdale International Airport
Our two week trip was a great experience. The staff was impeccable with every aspect of the journey, from arrival in Miami for the charter flight to the amazing restaurants, walking tours and music excursions. To coordinate over 150 travelers for a premium tour would have been impossible without their wealth of knowledge and attention to detail. For myself, the band, and many of our guests, the trip was one of the best experiences of our lives!
— Director of Development, Preservation Hall Foundation, New Orleans.