It’s a day more celebrated in America than in its own country of origin and for good reason…TACOS.
Cinco de Mayo, which occurs on the 5th day of May, commemorates Mexico’s unlikely victory over France in the 1862 Franco-Mexican war but is primarily observed in the state of Puebla where the battle was fought. This is not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day from Spain which is celebrated on September 16th.
While a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is enthusiastically recognized in the United States and has become an annual celebration of Mexican heritage, culture, and food (see Taco note above). In cities with large Mexican populations like Los Angelos, San Antonio, and El Paso, there’s a major commercial element with a focus on Mexican-made goods and services, historical lessons in schools, city-sponsored parades in the streets, and the likes.
I’m proud to admit that even in Memphis we know how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Restaurant patios in the burbs to the banks of the Mississippi River are filled with revelers taking advantage of Corona and margarita specials and eating their weight in chips and salsa. But as a mom, the days of jockeying for a spot at one of these raucous spots, now that I have kids in tow, are long gone; But that doesn’t mean I’ll let the day go uncelebrated.
In fact, there are lots of fun ways to incorporate the kiddos into your Cinco de Mayo celebration and teach them a thing or two about another culture while you’re at it:
- Make your home festive with the help of the kids using colorful tissue paper! Pinterest has tons of tutorials on how to make paper flowers or Papel Picados, paper banners with cut-out designs, and a little goes a long way to deck your pad with this colorful, bright, and inexpensive decor. While you are decorating, crank up the tunes with a mariachi station on Pandora. You may not know any of the words, but it will certainly help get you into the spirit!
- Play a traditional Mexican game with the kids like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” or Loteria, which means “Lottery,” and is similar to Bingo. For a printable version of the game, click here. You can also pick up a piñata at a party supply store or if you get adventurous, make your own with a paper bag and some fringed tissue paper.
- And Heaven forbid, don’t forget the adult beverages! My favorite homemade recipe for “Beergaritas,” a hybrid of the beloved margarita and beer, will have you forgetting all about the fun your younger self had in past Cinco de Mayos…..well, almost.
- 1 can limeade
- 1 can gold tequila
- 1 can Sprite or 7-Up
- 1 bottle Corona
- Mix all ingredients together in a blender
- Add ice and blend until smooth
- Serve immediately or keep in freezer until ready to serve
- Order takeout from your favorite Mexican restaurant or make your own! Grab some tortilla chips and Pancho’s cheese dip from Kroger, and enjoy my easy, breezy crockpot chicken tacos complete with your favorite toppings for a traditional Mexican meal that even the kids will rave about!
Crockpot Chicken Tacos (serves 6)
- 3 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 jar of your favorite salsa
- 1 packet of taco seasoning
- Juice of 1 lime or 1 tbsp bottled lime juice
- 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- Corn or flour tortillas
- Toppings of your choice (Sour cream, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, red onions, shredded lettuce, cilantro, guacamole, etc)
- In a slow cooker, mix Salsa, taco seasoning, lime Juice, cilantro, and chicken
- Cook on low for 8-10 hrs
- Remove chicken and shred
- Serve on a tortilla
- Add your favorite toppingsAdd any of your favorite toppings (lettuce, onions, peppers, black olives, low fat sour cream, taco sauce, etc.)
- And for the grand finale, indulge in a delicious Mexican dessert! Pick up churros from Costco or visit Kay Bakery on Summer Avenue for a huge selection of authentic Mexican treats. Or, try your hand at these DIY paletas, which are similar to popsicles but without all of the extra sugar, artificial colors, and cost!
- 2-3 cups fresh or frozen fruit
- 1 cup of juice, coconut milk, or vanilla yogurt (for creamier option)
- 2-3 tbsp honey (depending on sweetness desired)
- 2 tsp lemon or lime juice
- Popsicle molds or paper cups
- Popsicle sticks (if using paper cups)
- Place fruit in a blender
- Add juice and honey
- Fill molds or paper cups (if using paper cups, partially freeze before placing popsicle sticks in them)
Our pre-kid Cinco de Mayos may be a far cry from the ones we celebrate these days, but they can be just as fun and memorable.
I have actually begun to look forward to this annual tradition with my sweet family and have truly enjoyed teaching my kids how to celebrate and respect other cultures…..while eating tacos.