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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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Do I have to teach my kids about Santa and the Easter Bunny?

April 18, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Santa holds a lot of wrapped Christmas gifts on the left side of the image, while on the right side, a bunny sits beside an Easter basket filled with eggs on the grass

Question: I think that Christmas and Easter should be about the religion and reason for the holiday, not about presents and candy for kids. Am I a bad mom if I don’t teach my kids about Santa and the Easter Bunny?

Answer: You’re not a bad mom if you don’t teach your kids about Santa and the Easter Bunny. Your concern is valid. In our culture, religious holidays sometimes lose their original messages and transition to being about eggs, candy, and/or presents.

The most important thing that you can do during these holidays is to teach your children about their historical and religious purposes. Make these lessons part of your holiday traditions so that you remind your children every year what the holiday is really for.

But don’t forget that the other traditions can be fun, too, especially for your children. Hunting for Easter eggs and waking up to presents on Christmas morning is exciting and magical for children. As adults, we too often forget those feelings of wonder and pure joy, but our children still have those feelings and it’s a great thing to be able to (secretly) deliver it to them through these traditions.

Instead of forgoing those traditions altogether, we suggest a compromise. Limit the amount of gifts that come from Santa, so there is less of an emphasis on gifts from a magical man. Let your children focus more on the spirit of giving between your family members and to charity.

At Easter, the children can hunt for Easter eggs filled with loose change, messages of love, and IOUs for their favorite activities. This way, they still experience the fun of finding hidden objects but the rewards are more meaningful than candy.

Of course, with these compromises you should still spend time talking and learning about the true meaning of the holidays. With this approach, everybody wins!

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April Fools’ Day Pranks for You and Your Kids

April 1, 2014

By Judy Razo

A girl wears glasses with bushy eyebrows and a large nose attached to them.

Not every moment with your child has to be a serious one. It’s important to encourage him or her to have some fun and for you to participate in the excitement. After all, the best way to teach is by modeling behavior.

April Fools’ Day is a great opportunity to partner with your child to play some silly and safe pranks on your parenting partner or other family members. Your child will learn that having fun is important and can be done in a safe and playful way. He or she will also cherish these memories as some of the best times with you.

So go ahead, team up with your child and have some April Fools’ Day fun together with some of these easy pranks:

  • Blue tooth. Add a couple of drops of food coloring to a toothbrush and watch as your victim’s teeth turn blue when he or she starts brushing.
  • Fake fruit punch. Take a clear glass, fill with water, and add a few drops of red food coloring. Let your target take a few sips and watch the reaction when he or she realizes it’s only water.
  • Dyed cereal. Put a few drops of food coloring at the bottom of a bowl. Pour cereal over the food coloring drops and place the bowl on the table. Have the person eating the cereal pour his or her own milk. The bowl will fill with colored milk and surprise your victim.

Want more options? Try these on for size.

Find more kid friendly April Fool’s day pranks here

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Black History Month Infographic

February 20, 2014

Black History Month infographic part one

Black History Month infographic part 2

Black History Month infographic part 3

Illustration by Leah VanWhy
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Celebrate Family, Friends, and Community this February

February 3, 2014

By Amanda Gebhardt

Kids celebrate in the snow

As six more weeks of winter still supposedly loom ahead of us, February is a month to appreciate what we have and who we are. While romance gets most of the attention this month, Valentine’s Day, Black History Month, and President’s Day serve as reminders to think about those in our lives who we love and about the communities to which we belong.

  • Valentine’s Day. This particular day doesn’t have to be only about a romantic partner. To this day, my mom still sends my brother and me Valentine’s Day cards, usually with a treat included. I used to wake up for school and find a card and a small box of chocolates on the kitchen table. While my parents exchanged their own cards and gifts, my mom always included us, reminding us that we were loved. Use this time to show your love and appreciation to everyone who plays a significant role in your life.
  • Black History Month. Black History is American History. It is the story of the struggles and journeys our nation has taken to be the country we are today. The path was not easy, so use this month to celebrate how far we’ve come and to remember that only together can we truly move forward to a better tomorrow.
  • President’s Day. As of today, 44 men have served our country over the course of its sometimes-tumultuous history. There have been those who have defined us, like George Washington, whose birthday began this annual holiday, and Abraham Lincoln, who altered the course of American History. There are those, like John F. Kennedy, who were taken from us too soon. 44 times over the course of 238 years we have seen peaceful transfers of power while other nations strive for a single peaceful election. If that’s not a reason to be proud, I don’t know what is.

This month, YOU Parent is taking the time to appreciate the people in our lives and the journeys that have brought us all here together. We won’t forget the journeys we’re still on, though, and those that lie ahead, including the road to college that many of you are walking with your teenagers right now. Remember that together we are stronger, smarter, and better than we ever can be apart.

Tags :  academicemotionalsocialholidayculture
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