Celebrate Cinco de Mayo!
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Cinco de Mayo, loosely translated, means May 5th. It commemorates the battle that took place in Puebla, Mexico all the way back in 1862, when an ill-equipped Mexican army managed to turn back the French. At the time, Napoleon’s soldiers were the finest in the world, and they were anxious to get their hands on Mexican land, as payment for debts. Mexico's victory is celebrated every year, in a similar way to how Americans celebrate the Fourth of July. But you don't have to go south of the border to get in on the fun! Most people celebrate Cinco de Mayo with music and dancing, but if your kids don't feel like busting a move, they can bust out some craft supplies instead. There are lots of fun projects with a Cinco theme.
Start with some homemade “God’s eyes” or “ojos de Dios”. This tradition actually predates the state of Mexico. Huichol Indians used to weave these when a baby was born; every year until the child turned five, they would add another layer of thread. You’ll need two straight sticks (Popsicle sticks are perfect), glue, and even lengths of yarn in green, white and red to represent the colors of the Mexican flag. First, glue the sticks together in the middle to form a plus sign, and glue the end of one piece of yarn to the middle; this will be the back. When the glue is dry, begin winding that first piece of yarn over and around each stick, until you reach the end of the yarn. Tie the next piece of yarn to the end (at the back) and continue looping it over and around each stick. When the “eye” is completed, you can tie a piece of yarn to the end to hang it, or glue a pin to the back to make a brooch. Not feeling particularly crafty? Then raid the pantry! Dulce de Leche is one south of the border treat that couldn’t be easier to make and is guaranteed to please kids and adults alike. Take a can of sweetened condensed milk and stand it in a heavy pot. Cover with water and simmer gently for three hours, adding water as needed to keep the can fully submerged. Let cool. When you open the can, you’ll find a thick, sweet, golden caramel, perfect for spreading on bread or as a dip for sliced apples, strawberries and bananas. It’s quite rich, so one can of milk will make enough for the whole family.
So kick off the month with a little fun, Mexican style. However you decide to celebrate, Cinco de Mayo is the perfect excuse for a family fiesta!