As a Spanish teacher, I spend quite a lot of time planning curriculum around national holidays and culture. Every year around this time, my colleague and I host a cultural event to bring Hispanic culture into our school for our students to experience. Sometimes there is music and dancing, sometimes there is food, and always, there are lessons about Cinco de Mayo.
Personally, I love this time of year. The weather is beginning to get warm, flowers are coming up, the end of the school year is in sight, and everyone’s mood is generally more positive. Since Mexican culture is bright and vibrant, it fits right in with the late spring and early summer vibes.
While I’ll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a catered Mexican food fest with my students this time, there are many ways to experience Mexican culture on a smaller scale. Today, I’m sharing three easy ways that you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home.
First, a little history. The biggest misconception about Cinco de Mayo is that it is Mexico’s Independence Day. While it is an important day in Mexican history, it’s actually not Independence Day! Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain on September 16th, much like we celebrate July 4th, with fireworks, food, and the company of friends and family.
Cinco de Mayo, on the other hand, commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over the French in the Battle of Puebla. While Cinco de Mayo is traditionally a Mexican holiday, it is becoming more and more popular to celebrate it here in the United States. It has become less about celebrating the historical battle and more a celebration of Mexican culture.
For lots of people, celebrating Cinco de Mayo means sharing a beer (or a tasty cocktail) with friends and family, enjoying delicious Mexican food, and spending time together.
There are so many Mexican dishes out there, but one of my absolute favorites is chicken enchiladas. Like all of my favorite recipes, these enchiladas are versatile. The recipe can be altered to include a different kind of meat, to be spicy or not, or be made completely vegetarian. These enchiladas come together quickly (and can be prepared ahead of time) for a tasty meal any night of the week.
[yumprint-recipe id=’19’]If you find yourself in need of a Cinco de Mayo cocktail, try out my recipe for a Mexican Mule. It combines the yummy Moscow Mule with bright Mexican flavors, and it’s super refreshing with any Mexican meal.
[yumprint-recipe id=’20’]Lastly, if you’re in search of a simple craft to do with your little ones this week, look no further! These tissue paper flowers are a popular decoration for many Mexican holidays, including Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos. They can be made with one color or many, can be put into a bouquet, or can be made into a brightly-colored garland.
Easy Mexican Craft: Tissue Paper Flowers
What you need (per flower):
- 5+ pieces of tissue paper (I used a package of tissue paper from the gift wrap section, and cut the sheets in quarters. You could absolutely cut them in half again to make a smaller size flower.)
- 1 jumbo paper clip (or pipe cleaner)
What to do:
- Place all the tissue paper pieces in a stack.
- Fold all sheets together, accordion-style. Larger folds will be easier for small hands.
- Fold the accordion in half and secure with the paper clip.
- Fan out the accordion with one hand.
- Using the other hand, moving in a circle, carefully pull the top layer of tissue paper toward the middle.
- Repeat these steps with each layer until all the petals of the flower have been pulled toward the center.
- Scrunch the flower if it needs a little re-shaping, and you’re all done!
- To create a garland, make multiple flowers and tie together with yarn or more pipe cleaners.