Cinco de Mayo is a celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. In Canada and the U.S., Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico and the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-Canadian and Mexican-American culture. In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle is mostly ceremonial, such as through military parades.
This year we’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo with our friends and families and we want you to come along.
Papel picado (perforated paper) is a traditional Mexican folk art. It’s a decorative craft that involves cutting out intricate patterns on colourful tissue paper. The patterns are traditionally cut using a guide and a small chisel, but we used scissors for our version. The designs are then glued onto a string to assemble banners, which are used as decorations for important festivities and holidays.
Our spin on a goodie bag (contained in a printed Mexican novelty bag) holds spicy candies, small Mexican toys, themed stickers and, of course, a Dora the Explorer candy cane.
To really experience Mexican tradition, pick up a set of Loteria cards. Manufactured since 1887, this game is played exactly like bingo but with cards instead of balls. Players try to get rows of four (often marked by pinto beans) and shout “Loteria!” before anyone else.
Tie party invitations to inexpensive toy maracas. Guests can bring their invites along for an impromptu musical performance to authentic mariachi music. Or get the kidlets to make maracas by filling small containers with dried beans or pasta, beads or even nuts and bolts.
Learn a few words or phrases in Spanish. Start with basic terms such as “hola” (hello) and “adiós” (goodbye), numbers 1-10, primary colours or the days of the week.
Simple Spanish Words and Phrases
Mexico’s flag is made up three vertical stripes. The left green stripe stand for hope, the middle white stripe represents purity and the right red stripe represents the blood of the Mexican people. The central emblem is the Aztec pictogram for Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), the centre of their empire.
According to a beautiful legend, the gods advised the Aztecs to establish their city when they saw an eagle perched on a prickly pear devouring a serpent. They saw this mythical eagle on a marshy lake that is now the Zócalo (main plaza) in Mexico City.
A piñata, filled with small toys and treats, is a sure-fire hit. Always.
What fiesta is complete without margaritas? Make a virgin version for the littles and for those who don’t want to drink alcohol. For snacking, try tostadas toasted corn tortillas that are available in any international aisle of the grocery store (they’re great with melted cheese and salsa!). Here are a bunch more Mexican-inspired recipes for you to indulge in and celebrate with this Cinco de Mayo.