The History of Cinco de Mayo

It’s the fifth of May, which for those of Mexican heritage means it’s the day to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo is the remembrance of the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla.  It was one of the few victories that the Mexican people had over the occupying French Army.  Mostly it was a moral victory, but still holds a solid place in the celebration of Mexico’s struggle (and ultimate victory) for independence.

The French occupation of Mexico started in the aftermath of the Mexican-American war that lasted from 1846 – 1848.  Mexico had very little money to pay its debts and declared that it would pay nothing for two years, until it could get its own finances back in order. France disagreed with the proposal and backed it up with armed forces.

history of cinco de mayo

In 1862, on the 5th of May, the well-equipped French army (along with Mexican traitors) totaled around 8000 and began its advance on the Mexican people.  The Mexicans were undermanned and ill-equipped to fight the battle.

Union forces came to the aid of the Mexican people, because of the mutual disdain for the French.  General Phil Sheridan helped to supply the Mexicans with weapons and ammunition.  American soldiers were released from duty in order to join the Mexicans in battle against the advancing French army (some experts believe that because of the United States’ assistance during the Battle of Puebla against the French, many Mexicans rushed to support the United States after Pearl Harbor).

The United States and Mexico came together to defeat an enemy that outmanned them both. By working together, the two countries were able to eventually secure their own freedoms. The French were kept out of the United States and eventually the Mexican people ran them out as well and celebrated their own independence day.

The holiday of Cinco de Mayo in America goes back to the 1860s.  It was a celebration of the cooperation between the United States and Mexico to defeat the French.  In Mexico, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo is mostly regional – with the holiday being commemorated in the state of Puebla.

For the most part, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with festivals and fairs around the United States.  There are parades, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and many more activities to celebrate the Mexican heritage in America.

Today the celebration of Cinco de Mayo has lost almost all of its historical (and unification) roots.  Few people from any heritage understand the cooperation that formed the holiday. Like many cultural celebrations (St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest and the Chinese New Year) it has been hijacked by commercial enterprises.  It’s a shame that a celebration of such significance for the two countries now seems to be nothing more than a date on the calender.

 

Thanks to Paul Stein on Flickr for use of the image

Mother’s Day French Toast Breakfast

Mothers Day French ToastNeed a simple breakfast recipe to surprise your Mom on Mother’s day? Try this yummy French Toast:

Ingredients:

4 slices of bread
3 eggs
¼ C. milk
Dash of salt
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
½ C. brown sugar
¼ C. water
Sliced fruit (optional)

Directions:

Melt the butter in a skillet.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and salt together. Dip the bread into the egg mixture and cook until light brown and the egg is cooked. The bread should be slightly fluffy.

Remove from the pan.

Add the brown sugar to the pan and stir until melted. Add the water and stir again. Place the bread back in the pan and turn to coat it.

Remove from the pan and serve with Mom’s favorite fruit, sliced, as a garnish or side dish.

 

 

Thanks to ralph and jenny on Flickr for the use of the image

Duck Egg Blue Speckled Easter Egg Cookies

I have been loving SweetAmbs cookie decorations ever since I discovered her on Facebook. There are many beautiful ideas and recipes on her website, which I suggest you take a look at if you want to achieve spectacular results with your cookies (or biscuits as we call them in the UK). However, these blue Easter Egg cookies with brown speckles were so appropriate for today and such a simple idea that I had to share the video:

There are many tutorials on the website and she has a book coming out soon.

Dia de Madre – Mother’s Day – Stovetop Enchilada

Looking for a simple meal to treat your Mom this Mother’s Day? If she’s a fan of Mexican food, then you should try this stovetop Enchilada recipe. Add side dishes of rice and re-fried beans.

Ingredients:

½ lb. ground beef
¼ C. chopped onion
2 medium potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
½ C. water
4 corn tortillas
Shredded white cheese
Lettuce
Tomato

Directions:

Brown the ground beef in a 10 inch non-stick skillet, stirring until crumbly. Drain.

Add onion and potatoes and cook until tender.

Stir in the green chilies and water. Cook until the water evaporates.

Heat the tortillas in the microwave or skillet to soften.

Spoon the mixture onto the tortillas and roll. Sprinkle cheese on top. Microwave until the cheese melts and top with chopped lettuce and tomato.

Serve with soured cream or creme fraiche.

This is a recipe that all the family will love – not just your Mom!

 

Home-made Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Homemade Mothers Day CardLet’s face it, unless a child is taken to the store to pick out a gift for Mom for Mother’s Day, the only hope they have of giving a gift is to make it themselves.  The following are gift ideas that children can make this Mother’s Day:

Mothers love cards from their children, especially if they’re handmade.  It doesn’t matter if the card is a simple piece of paper folded and colored, as long as it’s from her child.  Any mother will cherish it.  There are places you can go online to find a Mother’s Day card template, but that won’t matter as much as a mother knowing that her child has spent the time and effort to create the card just for her.

Of course, she’ll want to display the card for some time after her day has passed.  What better way to help her do that than by making a seashell magnet for her to post the card on the refrigerator.  Make a couple so that she can hang several items at once.  All it takes is a dad willing to help with the hot glue gun, a few seashells, some small pieces of ribbon or dried flowers, and some round magnets.  Glue the magnets and ribbon onto the seashells and allow them to cool.  Pack them in a small basket and they’re ready to give to Mom.

Moms enjoy displaying photos of their kids, so what could be better than finding a favorite photo and creating a home-made frame to place it in?  Find a CD case and cut two pieces of scrapbook or construction paper large enough to fit snugly on the inside of the CD case.  Carefully cut a shape out of the center of the square to place the photo.  Decorate the paper before gluing the photo in place.  Put each piece of paper into the case and cover the back of the photo to keep it from falling out.  Glue the back of the paper into the case.  You can also put decorations on the frame itself.

What mom wouldn’t love a coupon book for Mother’s Day?  Write out coupons for “One free hug”, “Good for one foot massage”, “Control of the remote for one evening”, or “One undisturbed afternoon nap”.   Your child can come up with ideas of their own.  Make the coupons about 3” x 8 1/2” with a pretty cover and staple them together.  This gift is meant to be returned, so don’t be surprised if she redeems them quickly.

Bookmarks are another item that most moms would probably enjoy.  All this gift takes is some ribbon a little larger than a standard book, some fabric pens, and a little bit of patience.  Personalize them and Mom will like them even more.

The ultimate home-made gift a child can give their mom, with help from Dad, is breakfast in bed complete with a flower in a vase.  This gift may take a little more time than some of the other suggestions, but Mom is sure to love it and those that prepared it for making her feel so special.

The gifts a child can make for Mother’s Day are really limited by their own imagination, creativity, and ability.  Having Dad or an older sibling help will ensure the younger child is being safe during the creation process.  Whatever your child chooses to make and give, as long as it is made with love, it’s sure to be a big hit.

 

Thanks to Elizabeth/Table4Five on Flickr for use of the image