Celebrate Cinco de Mayo!|
by Wen Zientek-Sico
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with these easy ideas for decorations, activities, music, beverages, and food. Learn more about this fun holiday and whip up some great drinks and food in the kitchen to celebrate. Ole!
Cinco de Mayo parties have become increasingly popular in the United States and other countries…except Mexico, where the popularity has actually waned quite a bit. Why are they so popular? Because they provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy some of the best culture, music, food, drink, and activities that Mexico has to offer. Take this opportunity to learn a bit more about Cinco de Mayo and Mexico…or at the very least to enjoy some great Mexican food! Here is a little background information, ideas for fun activities, decorations, along with over 35 recipes perfect for your Cinco de Mayo party.
Many people mistakenly think of and even call Cinco de Mayo "Mexico's Fourth of July" or "Mexico's Independence Day". Actually, while Cinco de Mayo (The Fifth of May) was a very important day in the history of Mexico, Mexico's Independence Day was first celebrated on September 16, 1810. Cinco de Mayo, first celebrated in 1862, was actually a celebration of a valiant victory, which helped to boost morale and nationalism in Mexico.
On May 5, 1862, a small Mexican army and the village of Puebla, Mexico managed to defeat the French army against almost unbelievable odds. This battle still stands in the memory of people of Mexican heritage as being representative of the indomitable spirit of the Mexican people. The holiday is actually celebrated more by chicanos and others of Mexican heritage who have moved to other countries as a reminder of that spirit. Those in Mexico tend to remember the fact that the French came back about a year later and decimated the city of Puebla and ruled Mexico for about four years afterwards. September 16 is much more widely accepted as a holiday and that is when most of the celebrating in Mexico occurs.
If you are lucky enough to live in a city that has many Cinco de Mayo celebrations, make sure to get out and enjoy the traditional Mexican and Chicano music, food, and entertainment. If you are not so lucky, you will have to make do with some entertainment of your own. Purchase or borrow some traditional Mexican music from the library. Some great choices are : Los Mejores Corridos Del Cinco De Mayo, Cinco De Mayo: 12 Canonazos, and Mariachi: Folklore De Mexico (download an incredible song free from that CD here).
Having a piñata is also very traditional for a Mexican themed party. They can be purchased at party supply stores, or you can make one yourself. Fill it with candy or other prizes and let the kids have some fun! Other fun things to do with children is a Mexican hat dance, singing traditional Mexican songs, or learning more about the history and culture of Mexico.
There are a lot of great ways to decorate for Cinco de Mayo. Mexican flags and decorations in red, white, and green are very popular. Tissue paper flowers, sombreros, piñatas, maracas, and other brightly colored Mexican themed items are easy to find in party stores or make at home. Choose bright colors and add any Mexican accents you might have around the house. We use some unique Mexican tiles we have for trivets, a Mexican blanket for a tablecloth, solid primary colored napkins, and lots of terracotta for serving food. For flowers we arrange banks of carnations and mums in bright primary colors in heavy pewter pitchers or terracotta pots.
Many look forward to Cinco de Mayo every year just because of the sales that occur on Mexican beer, liquor, and liqueurs. It is a great opportunity to enjoy your favorite Mexican beverages and maybe even try a few new ones. Margaritas, Pina Coladas, Sangria, Daiquiris, Cerveza, Tia Maria, and, of course, Tequila are favorites to serve on this festive day. We have put together a collection of some of our favorite Mexican inspired beverages that use these ingredients, along with a few non-alcoholic beverages with a Mexican spin.
Blue Skies Margaritas
Frozen Strawberry Margarita
Kid Friendly Margarita Punch
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Mexican Style Sangria
Pink and Fruity Margaritas
Wen's Favorite Sangria
There are hundreds of terrific Mexican recipes to choose from that are perfect for Cinco de Mayo. As there is no food that is traditionally associated with Cinco de Mayo, the sky is the limit! We traditionally serve mole for Cinco de Mayo, in celebration of the city of Puebla, where the historic battle was fought. A Mole in Mexican cooking is not a furry little rodent. The word "Mole" is derived from the Aztec word "Molli" which means "sauce", "mixture", "concoction," or "stew." Every area of Mexico has its own variety of Mole sauce that it is renowned for, and every cook seems to have a "special" Mole sauce. The most famous Mole, Mole Poblano or Mole Poblano de Guajolote is a ceremonial complex dish with almost one hundred ingredients. It supposedly was created by a Dominican nun in the 1600's in the town of Puebla. We offer a few different mole recipes, one that is traditional and a bit easier on the cook, and one that is not very traditional at all (but very similar to the mole sauce frequently served in Mexican restaurants) that is very easy to prepare. Both make great dishes to serve to guests and can be made in advance.
We have assembled a bunch more of our favorite Mexican recipes that are perfect for Cinco de Mayo. Don't limit them just to one day of the year, they are fabulous!
Basic Enchilada Sauce
Corn with Chiles
Easy Chicken Mole
Favorite Chicken Quesadillas
Fiesta Pumpkin Corn Muffins
Garlic Cilantro Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Green Chile Squares
Healthy Chicken Quesadillas
Maryanna's Enchilada Casserole
Mexican Lemon and Pasta Salad
Mexican Marinated Mushrooms and Onions
Puebla Green Beans
South of the Border Salad
Tossed Salad Mexicali