sábado, mayo 07, 2005


canta y no llores

we had a smashing cinco de mayo party yesterday. in case i had any residual doubts about the existence of a gracious god, the crazies were unable to attend due to a previous field trip commitment. if ever there was a time when i almost jumped onto a table and did the cabbage patch, it was yesterday at 8:05 a.m. when i received the good news. yummy homemade mexican food came in all morning long (just as i planned! mwahahaha!) and i popped in a mariachi CD while we worked. when it was finally time to dig in, it was indeed absolutely fantastic: ensalada, flautas, tostadas, arroz, carne, tacos, salsa verde (and i'm not talking about the bottled shit) and pastel. one mom brought in what she called flautas but in veracruz those are called garnachas so i'm getting a little confused as to what makes a flauta... these things weren't rolled up. that's what makes a flauta by definition, no? anyway, i was so busy with party prep and our special area schedule change that i didn't even have time to check my email... that's serious, folks. the monolingual english teachers were very impressed by our spread... none of this store-bought cookies and sandwich crap! ay que no!

this next week, my kids will be reading letters and stories to the kindergarten classes. we practiced yesterday by reading cinco de mayo papers in front of pre-k. some of my guys totally sucked it up, which is sad since they spent an hour practicing reading aloud beforehand. luckily they at least got the gist of the reason behind cinco de mayo... one of the pre-k teachers is a friend of mine and he took the liberty of asking all kinds of nit-picky questions. while my kids may not accurately describe the weapons used in 1862 nor know which continent France is in (yeah, my friend can be a bit of an ass), they do know who Zaragoza is, that the French outnumbered the Mexicans in the Battle of Puebla, and that food is very very very important to any celebration. most of their papers went like so:

Celebramos el 5 de mayo porque los mexicanos peleaban con los franceses y los mexicanos ganó porque querían libertad. Hay bailes y cantan y comemos tamales y tacos y arroz y carne y puerco y pastel y enchiladas y flautas y mole y pollo y frutas. Fin.

Para los gringuitos: We celebrate Cinco de Mayo because the Mexicans fought the french and the Mexicans won because they wanted freedom. There are dances and they sing and we eat tamales and tacos and rice and meat and pork and cake and enchiladas and flautas and mole and chicken and fruit. The end.

i'm spending this weekend in the heart of south texas at my best friend's sister's college graduation. even the welcome signs at Wendy's are bilingual, i love it. sale.

but did mexico really win? and do they really celebrate it over there? hmmm. points of contention. maybe that's why your friend was being so picky.
how is mexico winning the battle of puebla a point of contention? i read all about the "is cinco de mayo a mexican holiday or a chicano holiday" debate online (since clearly i have no personal point of reference) and really the bottom line is that my district --and most other school districts in texas-- consider that holiday to be THE golden (and only) opportunity to celebrate mexican culture over the course of the school year. if n's pickiness had anything to do with that, it would have been understood, but as i stated in my post, it didn't. he was just having ridiculously high expectations for my 6- and 7-yr-olds' understanding of a war. are you trying to defend your boy or pick a fight?
Its actually a Chicano student invention. Chicano students in the 60's wanted a day to celebrate their heritage but since the 16th of September was at the beginning of the school semester there was not sufficient time to organize an event hence they chose May 5th as a symbolic historical event in which the Mexican forces defeated the invading foreign French Army at the Battle of Pueblo. Nothing more, nothing less. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated by the Mexican military with a parade or something and that is it. In the states, it is an overly commercialized holiday that really has lost most of its meaning...to me anyways.
my friend's father's theory is the reason cinco de mayo is embraced by americans and dieciséis is not is because the latter is too hard for gringo tongues to pronounce. he also told me yesterday that cinco de mayo is in fact celebrated in mexico (contrary to my understanding, which is that it's only really celebrated in puebla). bear in mind he also thought puebla was not a state (it IS), but i thought i'd throw another theory out there.

as far as the holiday's meaning, that's precisely why i paraphrased my students' papers... they talk about food and dancing more than the reason behind it. telling, isn't it?
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