Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

May 5th and May 6th: Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day!

Cinco de Mayo Research Topic

Cinco de Mayo Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Teachers! Don’t miss a unique opportunity to have a multicultural celebration in your classrooms on Friday, May 5th. Friday is Cinco de Mayo, while Saturday, May 6th, will be Derby Day, a celebration of the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” at the Kentucky Derby!

First things first:  As most of you know, Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day. That will be September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is the anniversary of the Mexican Army’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It seems that Cinco de Mayo is perhaps observed more in the United States than in Mexico because it has turned into a celebration of Mexican culture instead of a great military victory. The roots of Cinco de Mayo go back to the French occupation of Mexico which occurred after the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the so-called Reform War of 1858-1861. Cinco de Mayo celebrations probably began in the 1860s in California where Mexicans living there opposed French rule in Mexico.

Kentucky Derby Research Topic

Kentucky Derby Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

On Saturday, May 6th, Louisville will showcase the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. The history of the Derby dates way back to 1862. After seeing horse races in both England and France, Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of William Clark of the Corps of Discovery explorers Lewis and Clark, decided to stage a racing event in the States. With help from his uncles John and Henry Churchill, Clark developed a racetrack called the Louisville Jockey Club. The first “run for the roses” was held on May 17, 1875. (FYI: the race was won by Aristides). In 1883, the name Churchill Downs was first used for the track that hosts the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the famed Triple Crown of horse racing.

Educators should take time out this Friday to have some fun in the classroom learning about and celebrating these two unique cultural events.

Mexico Research Topic

Mexico Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Louisville Research Topic

Louisville Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary








“Let Us Celebrate – Cinco de Mayo” is a fine collection of resources from the Library of Congress that features links to several Primary Sources relating to Hispanic Americans, Hispanic Exploration in America, France in America, a Guide to the Mexican War and Mexican Immigration, among other topics. Today in History: May 5 is a nice website, also from the Library of Congress, that explains Cinco de Mayo and provides links to other resources. A very nice collection of curricular materials to help teach students about Cinco de Mayo can be found at the New York University Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

As far as learning about the Derby, the Kentucky Derby Museum provides several downloadable materials that educators can use in the classroom, including Derby Trivia and Fun Facts, Coloring Sheets, Kentucky Derby Seek and Find and a Suggested Reading list. If you care to have a sing-a-long of “My Old Kentucky Home,” you can find the lyrics here! And feel free to make up your own activities, such as having a Derby Hat contest.

eLibrary has many resources to help you have fun (and learn a little) about these two annual festivals.

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Cinco de Mayo (NOT Mexican Independence Day)

Cinco de Mayo Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Cinco de Mayo Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Cinco de Mayo no es el Día de la Independencia de México.  Known for its festive parties with music, dancing, storytelling and food, Cinco de Mayo is often times thought of as Mexican Independence Day.  The latter is the most important national holiday in Mexico.  Cinco de Mayo, while a celebration of Mexican heritage, is perhaps celebrated more in the United States than it is in Mexico.  And, therein lies the confusion.  Even Wikipedia notes at the top of its Cinco de Mayo entry:  Not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day, which occurs on September 16.

The historic event associated with Cinco de Mayo, the Battle of Puebla, occurred almost 52 years after Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1810.  Even more interesting, France was at the center of the story and not Spain.  Mexican President Benito Juarez decided to stop interest payments to Mexico’s creditors including France.  Emperor Napoleon III, in an effort to force repayment, invaded Mexico.  The invasion violated the Monroe Doctrine, but the United States was in the thick of fighting its own Civil War and could not assist its neighbor to the south.  France proved successful in the beginning of the war defeating Mexican troops along the way to Mexico City.  That is, until it reached the city of Puebla.  It was there on May 5, 1862 the significantly undermanned Mexican army of mostly peasants and farmers (4,000 men to France’s 8,000) under the leadership of Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin defeated the French in a stunning victory at the Battle of Puebla.  Celebrations of the victory arose in Mexico and the United States.  Although the underdog Mexicans won the fight that day, the French would take control of Mexico in 1863 and occupy it for the next four years.

It would not be until the 1960s in an effort to raise awareness of the cultural and historical contributions of Mexicans to Mexican-American communities in the United States that Cinco de Mayo would gain the significance it has today — at least in the United States.  Cinco de Mayo continues to be celebrated in Puebla as well, but it remains a minor federal holiday in Mexico.

Get Crafty with Hispanic Heritage

It’s time to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month!

There are many ways classrooms can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, a yearly celebration that falls between September 15 and October 15: meeting significant Hispanic Americans throughout U.S. history, exploring Hispanic countries, tasting traditional Hispanic dishes, or learning about Hispanic cultures.

OR, students and teachers can get crafty…while learning about some long-established Hispanic holidays and traditions.

Maracas for Cinco de Mayo

Mariachi Aguilar Real celebrates Cinco de Mayo
courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida via Flickr Commons [Public Domain]

In late 1861, Napoleon III sent his French army to invade Mexico in the hopes of establishing a French presence in the country. Napoleon III did not expect that Mexico would put up much of a fight. He was wrong. On May 5th of the following year, the Mexican army defeated the French army in the Battle of Puebla.

People celebrate Cinco de Maya (which means the 5th of May) by taking part in or attending parades, learning about Mexican history and culture, eating Mexican cuisine, displaying Mexican décor, and listening to or playing Mexican music. Students and teachers can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by learning about Cinco de Mayo and making their very own Mexican maraca. Why not Have a Musical Cinco de Mayo?

Remembering Family on the Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico
by Gengiskanhg via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday celebrated from October 31 through November 2. It is a celebration that transcends cultures and is acknowledged around the world.

The Day of the Dead provides time to remember and pay homage to loved ones who have died. Families and friends gather for parties and picnics in cemeteries and other places near ancestors’ remains. Elaborate decorations include skulls, skeletons, coffins, and other images representing death. Some people dress up in costumes, and children collect candy from piñatas. Shrines and altars to the dead are erected and filled with flowers and other offerings.

This culturally rich tradition is a wonderful way to honor Hispanic cultures in the classroom. You can make the lesson crafty as well…check out Remember Family with Ornament for instructions.

Worried? Make a Worry Doll!

Guatemalan Worry Doll
courtesy of Kakarinka via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

According to Guatemalan legend, muñecas quitapenas, or worry dolls, were created  by a child named Maria. Hoping to help her impoverished family, she made tiny dolls to secretly sell. The night before she went to the market, she expressed to the dolls her worry about not having money. The next day, one person bought all of the dolls—for more money than Maria could have ever hoped.

Thus worry dolls were born.

Telling your worry doll one worry and placing it under your pillow at night is believed to make the worry go away. This legend has spread beyond Guatemala, and now worry dolls are popular in many countries and cultures. Students can make their own Worry Dolls while learning about this beautiful tradition and the country from which it originated.

There are so many ways to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. One way is to use SIRS Discoverer and SIRS Knowledge Source to find articles and Web sites appropriate (and fun!)  for students.

Just make sure you celebrate!


September 16: Mexican Independence Day

“My children, this day comes to us as a new dispensation. Are you ready to receive it? Will you be free? Will you make the effort to recover from the hated Spaniards the lands stolen from your forefathers 300 years ago? Action must be taken at once! There is no time to lose! Mexicanos, viva México! Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! Viva Fernando VIl and death to bad government!”

Father Miguel Hidalgo

Miguel Hidalgo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This is from of a version of the spirited speech Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla gave to the residents of Dolores, Mexico, on September 16, 1810, in what is considered the start of Mexico’s War of Independence from Spain. The exact wording of this Grito de Dolores (“Cry from Dolores”) is not known, as Hidalgo, clutching a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was speaking extemporaneously upon having learned that he was to be arrested for promoting rebellion. Unfortunately, the revolt was quashed and Hidalgo and his main military leader, Ignacio Allende, were executed.

Following the death of the rebellion’s leaders, Jose Maria Morelos took up the fight and scored some successes, managing to take control of Oaxaca and Acapulco. In 1813, the Congress of Chilpancingo resulted in the Solemn Act of Northern America’s Declaration of Independence, Mexico’s first document stating its intention to split from Spain. In 1815, Morelos, too, was executed, and for years after, the rebellion consisted of mostly low-level guerrilla operations. In 1821, as the independence movement gasped for life, political events and an alliance with former loyalist Colonel Agustin de Iturbide resulted in victory for the rebels and the Treaty of Cordoba, which cemented Mexico’s independence. Iturbide was installed as the first Emperor of Mexico.

Today, states are named for Hidalgo and Morelo, and the day celebrating the start of the Mexican War of Independence is the biggest national holiday in Mexico, contrary to Americans’ mistaken belief that Cinco de Mayo takes the honor. (The latter, which commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory in the Battle of Puebla during French emperor Napoleon III‘s intervention in the country, is largely a celebration of Mexican heritage outside Mexico and isn’t even an official holiday.)

Each year on on September 15, the festivities begin in towns across Mexico–and even in the U.S.–with a local dignitary (or the president) reciting a version of the Grito as the crowd responds with shouts of “Viva, Mexico!” This leads into the national holiday on the 16th.

Check out eLibrary to find more great stuff on the history of Mexico and just about any subject, and be sure to explore the thousands of Research Topics pages we have created.

Research Topics link on the Basic Search page

Basic Search screen via ProQuest eLibrary

No doubt, you will be shouting, “Viva, eLibrary!”

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the First Indigenous American Saint

Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe Research Topic

Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe Research Topic screencap via Proquest eLibrary

As Catholic tradition has it, on December 9, 1531 the Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to Indian peasant Juan Diego on a hill near Mexico City. She asked that a church be built on the hill in her honor to bring comfort to the people. Upon hearing the story, a skeptical Spanish archbishop told Juan Diego to ask Mary for a sign of her presence. Mary pointed him toward roses growing in a place where only cacti were normally found, and when Juan Diego returned with the flowers gathered in his cloak, Mary arranged them and told him return to the archbishop. When Juan Diego dumped the flowers to the floor before the archbishop, it was discovered that they had left an image of Mary on his cloak.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City houses what is purported to be the actual fabric and image (known as the tilma) described in the story above. The tilma is visited by millions of pilgrims every year, and the image is the most popular religious image in Mexico. The popularity of the story and the relic have persisted despite skepticism, including questions about whether Juan Diego even existed, and in 2002 Pope John Paul II canonized Juan Diego as the first indigenous American saint. Juan Diego’s feast day is December 9 and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12. Previously having been a largely Latin American tradition, observation of the Guadalupe holiday is spreading north to the U.S. and elsewhere.

Whether Juan Diego’s tilma is the result of a miracle or a fabrication, its influence has been large, spurring millions of conversions to Catholicism and helping shape Mexican identity.

For information on Our Lady of Guadalupe, related topics and just about anything else, search in eLibrary, follow the links in the text above and see the resources below:

Research Topics:

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Roman Catholicism, Virgin Mary

Subject browse sections (Click on underlined words to widen or narrow the scope and click on “View Results” to see eLibrary resources. Items with stars next to them will display Research Topic pages.):

Religion, Christianity

Ceviche Recipe

Looking for a cool, tasty meal for those hot summer evenings? Try your hand at Ceviche Acapulco–a Mexican recipe from CultureGrams’ collection of over 1,000 recipes from every country in the world. You can also learn more about the ingredients in ceviche in eLibrary’s research topic on Mexican cuisine, including the fascinating history of the avocado, its many uses, and great nutritional value.

Ceviche Acapulco


3/4 pound red snapper fillets, cut in 1-by-1/2-inch pieces 8 ounces small shrimp, peeled and deveined Juice of 6 limes

Marinade: 3/4 white onion, finely chopped 4 serrano peppers, chopped 2 tomatoes, finely chopped 3/4 cup finely chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro 3/4 cup tomato juice 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper strips, with juice 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons dried and crushed oregano Salt, to taste Garnish: Avocado Cilantro, chopped


  1. Place seafood in glass bowl. Cover with lime juice. Let sit 4 hours or overnight. Drain. Return seafood to bowl.
  2. Mix onion, serrano peppers, tomatoes, olives, parsley, and cilantro. Stir in tomato juice, oil, jalapeños with juice, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, and salt. Pour sauce over fish, mix gently, and marinate for 1 day in refrigerator.
  3. Fill serving cups with ceviche, garnished with avocado and cilantro.


SKS Spotlight on the 2013-14 National High School Debate Topic: Latin America

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic engagement toward Cuba, Mexico or Venezuela.

Map: Venezuela <br \> Country Analysis Briefs, Energy Department (DOE), via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Map: Venezuela
Country Analysis Briefs, Energy Department (DOE), via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

The United States provides billions of dollars in financial aid and investment to countries around the world. Some of those billions go to countries in Latin America–a region that, in 2011, President Barack Obama called “a region on the move” and “more important to the prosperity and security of the United States than ever before.” The National High School Debate topic of 2013-14 asks students to acknowledge the significance and purpose of the U.S.’s economic involvement with its southern neighbors, particularly Cuba, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Cuba, ruled for decades by the Communist Castro regime, is slowly transitioning to an updated economic system. Mexico, close in proximity and in relationship with the United States, is moving toward a structural reform with a newly elected president. Venezuela endured the 2013 death of its two-decades-plus president Hugo Chavez, and is transitioning under a new leader. Should the U.S. engage in more trade with these countries? Provide more economic aid? Provide military assistance? Support direct financial investment in industries? Learn more about Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico in this month’s SKS Spotlight of the Month, and formulate your own educated opinion about these issues.