What is Santeria?
Santeria, or Lukumi, or Regla de Ocha, is a set of religious systems that combine Catholic beliefs with traditional Yoruba beliefs. The Yoruba are a large ethnic nation in Nigeria, the largest single ethnic nation in Africa. There are about 40 million Yoruba in the world, almost all of them in Africa. Their belief system involves various musical art forms.
Santeria originated in Cuba. The slaves brought from Africa to Cuba practiced Yoruba religious ceremonies. In the 18th century the Spanish Catholic church provided the means for the reconstruction of some of the ethnic heritage of the people in Cuba. The Yoruba slaves participated as well as other ethnic groups from Africa, they also added their master’s beliefs by adding Catholic saints into the mix, this combination would later become known as Santeria, or Lukumi. For the most part this seems to have been a way for the slaves to continue their own beliefs without resentment from the Catholics, they were pretending to worship Catholic saints when really they were worshipping their own. The term Santeria (Way of the Saints) was created by the Spanish to mock the slaves; they felt there was too much emphasis on the saints and not enough on God Himself. Little did they know they were embellishing the worship to fool the Spanish.