I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but until a few days ago, I didn't know the reason why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States. I remember a friend telling me many years ago that it has to do with the battle at Puebla near Mexico City, but that's all she could tell me and I never pursued a deeper explanation. The one thing I was sure of was that Cinco de Mayo is not the celebration of Mexican Independence day, which is on September 16th. That's all I knew. Ever since my ten-second conversation with my friend about Cinco de Mayo, this question has been sitting at the back of my subconscious mind like a file waiting to be reopened and filled with the correct documents. This week I set out to learn some history and finally answer all the questions in my sad incomplete file. Here's what I discovered through some online research in a nutshell.
"The battle at Puebla in 1862 happened at a violent and chaotic time in Mexico's history. Mexico had finally gained independence from Spain in 1821 after a difficult and bloody struggle, and a number of internal political takeovers and wars, including the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the Mexican Civil War of 1858, had ruined the national economy." [source: mexonline.com]
Image Source: www.worldatlas.com
In other words, Mexico was in a huge debt. Mexico owed Spain, Great Britain, and France money but could not at the time repay that debt. President Benito Juarez convinced Spain and Britain that he would find a way to repay, but he needed some time to recover and repair his Country first. Napolean III, ruler of France at the time, was not convinced and proceeded with an order to attack and seize Mexican land as repayment. France's Army General Lorencez came in through Veracruz, attacked at Puebla, and planned to head for Mexico City.
Photo Source www.hispanicblog.com
Cinco de Mayo marks the day in history (May 5th, 1862 to be exact) that thousands of Mexican troops, led by Army General Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated Lorencez and his army, which outnumbered the Mexican Army nearly two-fold. One year later however, Lorencez returned with a much larger and better equipped army. Mexico inevitably lost the second round of war, but General Zaragoza and his troops continued to fight. Mexico city was eventually taken over and ruled by Maximilian for another 4 years. Finally in the Summer of 1867, Mexico regained control of Mexico City and executed Maximilian.
So why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States? Well, some sources say that the battle at Puebla slowed the French army down and provided U.S. and Northern Mexico territories an opportunity to set up a much better equipped (and larger) Mexican army. The United States was in the middle of a civil war between its own states while all this was happening in Mexico, so both Countries were pretty much on their own. Mexico's first victory (on May 5th) gave the entire Country a huge boost in confidence. The news of the victory gave all of Mexico the courage to continue the fight when the French army returned.
What it comes down to I've learned, the main reason the U.S. began celebrating Cinco de Mayo is because of the sense of pride that Latinos living in the U.S. felt during this battle . This day became a symbol of Mexican resistence, pride, and courage because they stood up against a much stronger army and won when there was little hope. They were ill prepared, but they fought with all their strength and might for the love of their heritage and Country. Some say the battle at Puebla saved the United States because Napolean's army was unable to move North quickly. In other words, Mexico bought the U.S. time. Had the French been given the opportunity to continue North, they could have aided the U.S. Confederacy which would have been no bueno for The United States Government. So, I guess in some way we should be grateful for Zaragoza and the first troops that fought at Puebla.
What do you think?
A few weekends ago I attended the Ce Calli Azteca Mexica New Year Sunrise Ceremony. At first I didn't understand much of what some of the symbols, or even what Ce Calli meant, but later I found a great explanation about what it means and everything made more sense.
I've always heard the story of The Three Kings in Christmas books, but I never allowed myself to see past the real reason why we celebrate Christmas. To me the birth of Jesus has always been THE reason for Christmas, but I never looked past his birth, never fully respecting or understanding the events that surrounded his birth. Just in the last few months of my revalation of not knowing much about my Mexican roots and doing some research, I have learned many new ideas and traditions that aren't being celebrated by a large majority of my extended family. Not because they don't believe anymore or care, but because they have lived in the US for so long that these traditions have become distant memories.
A new tradition has begun in our family.
One that came from a different religion than what I was taught growing up.
My roots are deep but cold and frail.
They remain unseen.
These roots that hide, grow warm on days like these.
For the life I lived today will be remembered yet again tomorrow.
And for that reason, my roots will warm once more.
First off, I would like to say Thank You to anyone who actually reads all my posts and for sticking around and coming back to read about our latest happenings. It is so difficult to keep up with posting on a weekly basis. Some ideas come and leave before I can jot down a sliver of that inspiration. Others stick around and haunt my days until I can spit them out onto this here blog journal I've created for myself. Sharing a review of our favorite Spanish or Bilingual books is one of those ideas that I cannot go without forgetting. It bugs me when I don't do it because we have already made several trips to the library since my first post about our new library routine
, and I have only shared and reviewed one book out of the handful that I have fallen in love with. So let me try this again. I promise to really try hard to be more consistent with this series. Especially since I will be giving away some of the books that I review and share here. I am super excited to be having my first giveaway so lets get to it.
About two-and-a-half weeks ago I started a new series inspired by my daughter's interest in learning some Spanish and our desire to increase her Spanish vocabulary. Ideally this is supossed to be a weekly post of words that I will be teaching her and some that I am learning myself, but our recent family vacation put a slight hold on my momentum for this project online. While out and about having a wonderful time on our family vacation however, we practiced here and there whenever possible. Now that i'm back in (almost) full swing it's time to get serious about teaching my children some Spanish and building up my vocabulary as well.
This whole teaching my kids Spanish mission is much harder than I thought it would be, and it all boils down to ME not having a big enough vocabulary for the task. It's interesting to me that with all these years of teaching young children, I find THIS to be the hardest when in reality it should be one of the easiest (or so I thought). The hardest part so far (apart from my second-grade-level vocabulary skills) has been keeping my momentum up in teaching my oldest kiddo Spanish. I'm regreting not speaking to her in Spanish as a baby now because she's having a hard time understanding sentences. She's picking up individual words and learning them, which is good, but when me or my Mom speak sentences to her in Spanish, she doesn't understand us. I have also noticed that she sometimes won't respond at all or will completely ignore me (and her Grandma). This worries me.
Our last trip to the Library was......tiring. Anything is tiring when you have to carry a one-year-old, a bag of books and make sure your other little one doesn't wander off too far. What was I thinking not taking in the stroller?! Big mistake! I don't know how parents with more than two children do this. Call me a weakling, but this sh** is hard. This last trip to the library was my first time alone with them there and boy was it exhausting. Luckily we made it out with some good finds.
Have I mentioned that having a big family is fun?! Recently we celebrated my mom and cousin's birthday's which happen to be on the same day. A cousin of mine also celebrated her daughter's 5th birthday the same day. So we attended hers during the day, and my mom and cousin's at night. Because we have such a large family, multiple birthday parties in one month happen often. In September for example, we have 5 birthdays and two wedding anniversaries! Talk about a busy month.
It's the adult parties that are the best though (sorry kids).That's when things get crazy. Well, I shouldn't say they get crazy because really, no one is jumping off the roof or anything like that. That would be crazy koo-koo. That's not us. As a matter of fact, I take that back because more than anything, our parties are fun! Mostly because we kick all our worries about bills, chores, errands and such, out the door for those few hours to let loose and forget about what is stressing our lives at that moment. Our parties are simple and never really rushed. Let's see if I can give you a quick gist of how the night unfolds at one of our family gatherings.
`We have to tell our relatives the party starts at 1pm so that they can be there by 4pm.
`Everyone starts to arrive around 4pm (ish), sometimes closer to 5pm, ready to eat.
`Everyone brings some sort of side dish which makes the food table look more like a mexican buffet
table. Dangerous when you're trying to lose some weight, but oh so delish :)
`Once the sun goes down the music is cranked up and can be heard at least three
houses down the street (thank goodness no one has complained so far).
`The firepit is blazin a warm fire to keep us warm outside.
`Around the corner the men have either started a game of poker or are simply drinking and talking about
whatever it is guys talk about when they are with their compadres.
`Kids are running, laughing, playing (in, out, and through the house), and by the end of the night
some of them are laid out on layers of blankets that have been carefully made into a bed on the
carpet - the oldest ones watching a movie.
`Meanwhile some of the adults are outside dancing to a mixture of cumbias, rancheras, salsa, and
pretty much anything that brings out the latin spirit in us. The others are inside comadreando.
`The women usually start to clean-up a little as the guests start to leave.
`The host is making sure that guy isn't driving because he had a few too many beers and most likely
some shots of tequila in between.
`The women do some more cleaning.
`Anywhere between 1am-2am the last guest leaves.
The host puts away any food that hasn't been put away already.
And finally, she hits the bed HARD for the next 8 hours or so, followed by some strong coffee the next morning.
Yup. That about sums it up.
Can't wait for the next shindig. :)