Cinco de Mayo 101

How much do you know about Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May)? People often confuse Mexican Independence day, which is September 16, with Cinco de Mayo. Growing up, my family attended the Mexican Independence Day parade every year, but we never did anything for Cinco de Mayo. So what exactly is Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexico's victory of "La Batalla de Puebla" (battle of Puebla) on May 5, 1862 against the greatest army at the time, the French. Four thousand expertly trained and armed French soldiers faced off against the Mexican army of 2,000, some of whom had no training and some armed with just farm tools. To everyone's surprise, on the fifth of May, that small but courageous united Mexican army was victorious.

Each year on Cinco de Mayo you can rejoice in the pride and unity that was felt that day along with the culture and traditions of Mexico here in the United States by going to the parade, listening to some Mexican folk music or reading some books so you can truly appreciate the meaning of Cinco de Mayo beyond the fiestas (parties).

Take a colorful trip around Rosalba's neighborhood in California as they prepare for Cinco De Mayo.  Along with facts about Cinco de Mayo and mariachis (Mexican folk music band), you can also learn how to prepare some elote fresco (corn on the cob).

This informational book for younger readers not only explains why and how we celebrate Cinco De Mayo, but also takes you back to September 15, 1810 when Mexico won its independence and all the events that led to the battle that resulted in victory on May 5, 1862.

Preparations are under way for the Cinco de Mayo fiesta, and Perico (Parrot) practices his new sentence, "Let Me Help!" After only getting in the way of making tamales and mariachi rehearsal, Perico finally finds a way to pitch in on this special day.

Mouse, awakened by the delicious smells of a fiesta in Cinco De Mouse-O!, goes on a mission to find it! Join him as he encounters sombreros, dancers and a piñata, but who waits in the shadows for Mouse?

All Gustavo wanted was to be a mariachi and wear un traje de charro (horseman suit) like the rest of his family, but he was the worst at playing instruments. One morning Gustavo lets the canto (song) he felt in his soul loose and it's finally discovered that he just might be The Best Mariachi in the World!

Chicago-based, two-time Grammy-nominated Sones de México Ensemble have been bringing us "son" (rhythm) folk music and dance for 21 years. Their album Fiesta Mexicana, geared for children and families, is a great way to have kids revel in Mexican culture.

How do you plan to celebrate?

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