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Cinco de Mayo vs Mexican Independence Day

May 5, 2014

By Judy Razo

An illustration in the shape of a heart features piñatas, cacti, guitars, peppers, Mayan pyramids, and more cultural images of Mexico.

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday celebrated by many in America. But do you know why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

The holiday is frequently confused with Mexican Independence Day, and while they both mark the start of wars where the Mexican people were fighting to defend themselves, the two events took place over 50 years apart and for very different reasons.

Whether your family has a Mexican heritage or not, use today’s holiday to celebrate an important part of American and Mexican culture. Here is a quick overview of the two Mexican holidays to help you tell the difference as you and your family join in on the fun.

Cinco de Mayo

DATE: May 5

ORIGIN: The celebration of Cinco de Mayo originated in Mexican-American communities across the west and southwest of the United States to celebrate freedom and democracy during the beginning of the American Civil War.

On May 5, 1862, the outnumbered Mexican army had an unlikely win over the powerful French forces in the city of Puebla. The win rallied the Mexican nation, bringing them together and instilling a patriotism that continues to live on in its citizens today.

The battle of Puebla took place over 50 years after Mexico had declared and eventually won its independence from Spain.

WHERE IT’S CELEBRATED: Mostly in the United States of America, especially in the southwestern states. It is also celebrated in the Mexican state of Puebla where the battle took place.

TRADITIONS: The holiday is celebrated with parades, ballet folklorico dances, mariachi music performances, and street festivals in cities across the United States.

Mexican Independence Day (known as Diez y seis de septiembre)

DATE: September 16

ORIGIN: The celebration of Mexican Independence Day, known as Diez y seis de septiembre (September 16), began in Mexico in 1825 to mark its declaration of independence from Spain.

On September 16, 1810, in the small town of Dolores, Mexico, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, now known as “El Grito,” launched a rallying cry to declare freedom and equality for all citizens of Mexico. After more than a decade of war, Mexico finally won its independence in 1821.

WHERE IT’S CELEBRATED: Throughout Mexico and in some cities and towns across the United States.

TRADITIONS: In observation of their independence, Mexicans celebrate for the entire week of September 16. This celebration is known as “Las fiestas patrias,” which means “the patriotic celebrations.”

The celebration includes traditional Mexican food, music, dancing, and parades across Mexico. In the United States, the day is celebrated similarly to Cinco de Mayo but on a much smaller scale and with less visibility in the media.

Tags :  cultureacademicteachersholiday
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Teen Drinking: Prom and Graduation Parties

May 1, 2014

By Nely Bergsma

A male teen lays in a blur of glasses and bottles of alcohol.

The end of the school year brings much to celebrate, especially for teenagers. As your teen prepares for prom or graduation celebrations, it is important to set parameters and share expectations on how to celebrate safely and responsibly, especially when he or she will be attending celebrations where alcohol may be present.

Recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggest that alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States (more than tobacco and illicit drugs) and is responsible for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth. Although it is illegal for people under 21 years old to drink alcohol, 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States is by people aged 12 to 20 years. More than 90 percent of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.

As a parent I don’t assume that my children would never engage in such behavior nor attend a party where there may be alcohol. While I trust that they will make good choices, I always engage them in ongoing scenario conversations that will offer them direction but also offer me insight as to what type of decisions they are most likely to make.

  • Ask your child if there will be alcohol at any celebration they will be attending. If yes, what are the expectations for them attending? Be very clear. 
  • Who is hosting the celebration? Will the parents be home? Be certain to get the name, address, and phone number of the family hosting the party. If you do not know the family, you may want to consider calling the parents. 
  • Who will your teen know at the celebration? Will he or she be going with a group? Get the names and phone numbers of all those in the group.
  • How is he or she getting to and from the party? Be certain to get the name and phone number of the driver and his or her parents. 

Be firm but not combative. If your teen is evasive and does not want to freely give such information, then you may consider not allowing him or her to attend. Once you are comfortable with the information your teen has given you, you will have more to discuss.

  • Discuss the parameters of the event and set expectations in case something goes wrong or your teen feels uncomfortable while at the celebration.
  • Be available to your teen should he or she need your guidance while at the celebration. Make it clear that he or she can call or text you at any time.
  • While your teen is out, be ready to pick him or her up at the celebration should he or she want to leave early. Let your teen know you will not be upset if he or she needs you to come and pick him or her up.

Finally, when your teen arrives home, be awake to greet him or her. If your teen does not want to share details right then and there, wait until the next day to discuss how things went—whether good or bad.

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