In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become synonymous with sombreros, maracas, and a general excuse to party. Over the years, horror stories of inappropriate and often racist celebrations have become cringe-worthy content no parent ever wants their child to be a part of. Teaching your kids how to celebrate the holiday while also celebrating the history behind it is important to help them respect Mexican culture.
Here are tips on how you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo respectfully with your kids.
Learn about the history of Cinco de Mayo and Mexico
Cinco de Mayo has become more popular in the United States than in Mexico. It is not the Independence Day of Mexico as many assume, but actually commemorates the Mexican Army’s win over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Understanding the history behind the holiday is a great first step to opening up the conversation about Mexican culture and how to celebrate appropriately.
Here are five fun facts about Mexico to share with your kids:
- Mexico City is the oldest city in North America. Built on the ruins of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, the Spaniards founded Mexico City in 1520.
- Chocolate is from Mexico. First cultivated by the Aztecs and the Mayans, the cacao plant has been enjoyed for its flavorful beans for thousands of years.
- There are 68 recognized languages in Mexico. Since the country is home to hundreds of indigenous people, there are many languages outside of Spanish spoken throughout the country.
- Mexico is home to the world’s smallest volcano. At 43 feet tall, the Cuexcomate volcano outside of Puebla is over 900 years old and is a local landmark. In comparison, the largest volcano in the world is Mauna Loa in Hawaii at 13,678 feet tall.
- Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated on September 16 and commemorates the end of fighting between Spain and Mexico.
Cook a traditional Mexican dish
Food is a huge part of any culture, and Mexican food is no different! There are many traditional Mexican foods that are kid-friendly and easy to make including guacamole, pico de gallo, chicken tinga, and tres leches cake. This sweet twist on guacamole appeals to a kid’s sweet tooth without making parents worry about sugar and unhealthy fat. Get your kids involved in the cooking for fun-filled family time.
Not in the mood to cook? Order takeout from your local Mexican restaurant and dig into flavorful dishes to celebrate. Try to avoid ordering from faux Mexican food chains.
Avoid cultural appropriation and stereotypes
Overall, make sure that your celebration does not promote or reinforce stereotypes about Latino people, especially Mexicans. Avoid using decorations, photos, or elements of Mexican culture that reinforce one-dimensional views. Respecting the diversity and traditions of Mexico can leave your kids with positive impressions about a culture they may not be familiar with. By avoiding harmful stereotypes and cultural appropriation during your celebration, you are reinforcing acceptance and preparing your kids to be better citizens of the world.