As a Spanish teacher, I spend quite a lot of time planning curriculum around national holidays and culture. Every year around this time, my colleague and I host a cultural event to bring Hispanic culture into our school for our students to experience. Sometimes there is music and dancing, sometimes there is food, and always, there are lessons about Cinco de Mayo.
Personally, I love this time of year. The weather is beginning to get warm, flowers are coming up, the end of the school year is in sight, and everyone’s mood is generally more positive. Since Mexican culture is bright and vibrant, it fits right in with the late spring and early summer vibes.
While I’ll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a catered Mexican food fest with my students this time, there are many ways to experience Mexican culture on a smaller scale. Today, I’m sharing three easy ways that you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home.
First, a little history. The biggest misconception about Cinco de Mayo is that it is Mexico’s Independence Day. While it is an important day in Mexican history, it’s actually not Independence Day! Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain on September 16th, much like we celebrate July 4th, with fireworks, food, and the company of friends and family.
Cinco de Mayo, on the other hand, commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over the French in the Battle of Puebla. While Cinco de Mayo is traditionally a Mexican holiday, it is becoming more and more popular to celebrate it here in the United States. It has become less about celebrating the historical battle and more a celebration of Mexican culture.
For lots of people, celebrating Cinco de Mayo means sharing a beer (or a tasty cocktail) with friends and family, enjoying delicious Mexican food, and spending time together.
There are so many Mexican dishes out there, but one of my absolute favorites is chicken enchiladas. Like all of my favorite recipes, these enchiladas are versatile. The recipe can be altered to include a different kind of meat, to be spicy or not, or be made completely vegetarian. These enchiladas come together quickly (and can be prepared ahead of time) for a tasty meal any night of the week.
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon jarred minced garlic)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups cooked shredded (or cubed) chicken
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 cups shredded cheese
- 1 large can of enchilada sauce
- 12 corn tortillas
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Add the onion, garlic, salt and olive oil to a large pan.
- Cook until the onions are translucent, stirring frequently.
- Add the chicken to the pan and stir to combine.
- Turn off the heat, stir in the sour cream, the cilantro, and half of the cheese.
- Pour about a third of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
- Begin assembling the enchiladas. Spoon about ⅓ cup of the filling into a tortilla, roll up the tortilla, and place it (seam side down) into the pan.
- Repeat step #7 until all the filling and tortillas are used up.
- Carefully pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the filled tortillas. Use a spoon to even it out, if needed.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and cover the pan with foil.
- Bake for 20 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Enjoy with your favorite rice and beans for a delicious meal!
- If you prefer beef, you could swap out the shredded cooked chicken for shredded cooked beef or cooked ground beef. If you prefer to eat vegetarian, you could swap out the chicken for a drained and rinsed can of black (or pinto) beans and a large sweet potato, cooked and cut into cubes. If you prefer spicier food, you could toss in a chopped, seeded jalapeno when you saute the onions and garlic.
- 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 ½ oz of your favorite tequila
- Ice cubes
- 3 oz ginger beer
- Thin slice of lime
- Add the lime juice and tequila to a glass and stir well to combine.
- Add ice, top off with ginger beer, and stir gently.
- Garnish with a slice of lime and enjoy!
- If you want to get fancy with these drinks, you could rim the glasses with lime juice and salt before mixing your cocktail.
Easy Mexican Craft: Tissue Paper Flowers
What you need (per flower):
- 5+ pieces of tissue paper (I used a package of tissue paper from the gift wrap section, and cut the sheets in quarters. You could absolutely cut them in half again to make a smaller size flower.)
- 1 jumbo paper clip (or pipe cleaner)
What to do:
- Place all the tissue paper pieces in a stack.
- Fold all sheets together, accordion-style. Larger folds will be easier for small hands.
- Fold the accordion in half and secure with the paper clip.
- Fan out the accordion with one hand.
- Using the other hand, moving in a circle, carefully pull the top layer of tissue paper toward the middle.
- Repeat these steps with each layer until all the petals of the flower have been pulled toward the center.
- Scrunch the flower if it needs a little re-shaping, and you’re all done!
- To create a garland, make multiple flowers and tie together with yarn or more pipe cleaners.