Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico, but it is also widely celebrated by Mexican-Americans in the United States. The holiday, which in Spanish means the “Fifth of May,” commemorates the Battle of Puebla, when Mexican patriots stopped a French invasion. It often is confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which is Sept. 16.
The Battle of Puebla victory was significant in that the smaller, less well-equipped army toppled the bigger, stronger one.
To honor the day, people throughout Mexico, as well as many cities throughout the United States, celebrate with festivals and fiestas, enjoying traditional Mexican food and special music and dances. People often don clothes of red and green — two of the colors of the Mexican flag (along with white). -McClatchy Newspapers
ACTIVITIES from the KRP Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide
While most Mexican-Americans celebrate the traditional American holidays, many also continue to observe the major holidays of their homeland, such as Cinco de Mayo. Often, they do so with fiestas. Explain to students that fiesta means festival, a colorful celebration that can include fireworks, dancing, the ringing of bells, parades, and plenty of food and drink. Another Mexican tradition, the pinata, is also usually present. Pinatas, which are commonplace in many American celebrations, are usually made of papier-mache and are shaped like animals. Find a papier-mache “recipe” and old newspapers and help your students make a pinata for Cinco de Mayo. Display their work throughout the school.
Discuss other ways Mexican-Americans have had an influence on American society and your community. Ask students to find and clip newspaper stories and photos that illustrate this influence. They can create a bulletin board display in honor of this important Mexican national holiday.
Mexico is an important American neighbor. Things that happen in Mexico often affect the United States and vice versa. Have students look for a news story about an event or happening in Mexico that will have an impact on the United States. Allow them to discuss their conclusions. Then have them look for a U.S. story that might have an effect on Mexico.