Fidel Castro formally announced that Cuba would, for one year, observe Christmas as an official holiday.
The action was a gesture to the Pope and Christians on the island, and set a precedent of friendship between Cuba and the Vatican. The announcement came shortly before Pope John Paul II visited the island.
Prior to 1991, Cuba had officially been an atheist state, so Christmas was not commonly celebrated.
Many Cubans have expressed great enthusiasm for the observation of Christmas this year.
The suggestion to do this came from the Pope while Fidel Castro was visiting him at the Vatican. Castro was reminded of the Pope's request, and made this gesture in response.