You don’t have to be Mexican to celebrate Cinco de Mayo or appreciate Mexican culture. We live in a diverse society and we want our kids to respect others. Part of that process is to teach children about cultures aside from our own.
“Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May) commemorates Mexican Independence from Napoleonic domination. On this day in 1862, the Mexicans defeated the French at the city of Puebla. Mexican Independence from Spanish rule is celebrated on September 16. Both holidays are observed in Mexico, but in the United States [May 5th] is considered the official Mexican independence day and is the biggest Mexican American secular celebration of the year…You might say that Cinco de Mayo is as important to Mexican Americans as St. Patrick’s Day is to Irish Americans–and just as on St. Patrick’s Day everyone is Irish, on Cinco de Mayo even Anglos turn Mexican overnight and join in the revelry.”(Everything You Need to Know About Latino History, Himilce Novas)
Depending how old your children are, you may not want to get into a deep conversation about war. But there are other ways to help them understand the holiday and celebrate Mexican culture.
4 Ways to Celebrate Mexican Culture with Kids
Crafts: Kids love arts and crafts! So what easier way to initiate a conversation about Mexican Independence than by making this mini fiesta pinata in the colors of the Mexican flag.
Food: What is a celebration without delicious food? Treat the family to a night out at your local Mexican restaurant or be inspired to make your own. If you’re looking for ideas check out this list of 20 Tex-Mex recipes. From horchata to Crockpot Chicken Fajitas to Tres Leches Cake – there is something on this list for everyone.
Music: Dancing is a great form of physical activity for kids. It helps with physical coordination, range of motion, strength and stamina. And it’s FUN! Cinco de Mayo is a great day to introduce your kids to Mexican musical legends like Carlos Santana, Paulina Rubio, Mana or Selena.
Literature: Books are always the key to a culture and keep the history alive. Some suggestions are: Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Diego Rivera, His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh, Frida ¡Viva La Vida! Long Live Life! by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez by Monica Brown. For more book suggestions on Mexican and other Latino literature visit: latinas4latinolit.org
Sometimes history can be complicated for young minds to grasp and fully comprehend. But when children are exposed to a culture and grow to love it, they will seek out its history all on their own.