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May 3, 2005 > Cinco de Mayo- celebrating freedom and liberty

Cinco de Mayo- celebrating freedom and liberty

by Mekala Raman

The holiday of Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for "The 5th of May," commemorates the Mexican victory over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862. Although many people confuse this celebration with Mexico's Independence Day, the latter is actually on September 16, the day Mexico gained sovereignty from Spain in 1810.

In 1862, Napoleon sent his French troops to collect debts from Mexican President Benito Juarez, and decided to remain in Mexico. He ordered his generals to conquer Mexican land beginning with the capture of Mexico City, believing that occupation of the capital would force surrender. A small, ragged army of Mexican soldiers faced a flamboyant French Legion of 8,000 men. Although Mexico was in French control for a brief period of time, unique battle tactics, allowed Mexicans to defeat the French troops and save their country. Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated enthusiastically in the state of Puebla, throughout Mexico and wherever people of Mexican heritage live.

Customary dishes such as red, green and white rice are prepared to represent the flag of Mexico and are served along with red and green tamales, tortillas and various appetizers. Bread called bu#241;uelo - a mixture of salt, flour and water fried in canola or peanut oil - is dished up warm with sugar or syrup and tamarindo, a fresh fruit drink, is also popular. Listening to music by mariachi bands (traveling musicians) and breaking pi#241;atas are also traditional customs.

Clothing plays an important role in celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Women dress in vibrant colors of orange, yellow, red, light blue, or lime green embroidery on white dresses. Young girls often braid their hair festooned with colorful ribbons for the festivites.

On May 7, the Newark library will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with stories, crafts, music and displays exhibiting Mexican culture. Jaime Riascos, a Bay Area writer and storyteller who hails from Colombia, will entertain folks with cultural stories in both English and Spanish beginning at 1 p.m.

The Fremont Main Library will hold its fiesta on Saturday, May 7 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

Newark Library
Saturday, May 7
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
6300 Civic Terrace Ave., Newark
(510) 795-2627

Fremont Main Library
Saturday, May 7
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
2400 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont
(510) 745-1400

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