Tag Archives: holiday

Home for the Holidays

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Happy Holidays to all of my inspirNational followers! I hope that you have enjoyed a festive month this December. With only a couple days left of 2016, I am reflecting on what it has meant to me to be home for the holidays. Over the past month, I have completed my second to last semester of graduate school and have made the long road trip from South Carolina to Michigan, spending time in various cities in between to get together with friends and family. I have been fully engaged in spending time with loved ones, which has been wonderful for me to disconnect a bit from the real world and to reconnect with friends and family who I have not seen in almost a year.

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Traveling throughout 2016 has reminded me of the importance of home. I have absolutely loved living abroad and exploring, but it is even more rewarding when I can go back home to share memories with my loved ones. Home is what helps me relax, reflect, and rejuvenate to learn and grow from my past experiences and prepare for my next adventures. Traveling has also taught me that home is not a place, but the feeling I have when I am with family and friends. This has explained why I have often felt at home, even when I have lived and traveled throughout the world, especially this year. With the feeling of home, then, all of us can experience home at several points in our lives as we move and go to new places. I have found that I feel most at home when I am with my mom and dad since I have known them my entire life, followed by other family members and lifelong friends. As my family, friends, and I have moved and traveled to new places and have had different experiences, we always go back to the “old days” or “how it always was” when we get together. It is such a comforting feeling especially with all the changes we face in our daily lives. My feeling of home as a connection to people has taught me that the people in my life are what matter most to me. I couldn’t be more grateful for my family, friends, and inspirNational followers who have helped me feel at home and have learned and grown with me over the years. I hope that whether you have traveled home or not this holiday season, that you have felt at home by reconnecting with your loved ones. May 2017 bring you much happiness, love, and inspirNational adventures!

Respecting the Significance of Cinco de Mayo

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

As many people in Mexico, the U.S. (including me), and throughout the world celebrate the holiday, it is important to remember its significance to Mexico.

Source: HLNTV

Source: HLNTV

I have read several articles about Cinco de Mayo and appropriate ways to acknowledge its symbolism. One of the most insightful articles I read was by Raul A. Reyes, an attorney and member of the USA Today board of contributors. Below I have captured his article, On Cinco de Mayo, celebrate, don’t stereotype, on CNN:

“Time to pass the margarita pitcher? For most Americans, Cinco de Mayo calls to mind tequila shots, mariachi music, and special promotions at Mexican restaurants. The Fifth of May usually means that it’s time for a mid-week fiesta.

Not so fast. It’s worth knowing more about Cinco de Mayo, our homegrown holiday. We should at least recall its true meaning and context. With Cinco de Mayo, the U.S. has gone straight to commercialization with little thought to its original significance.

That’s a shame, because Cinco de Mayo is a seminal date in Mexican history. It is a holiday that deserves respect, and it can even be seen as a metaphor for the Hispanic experience.

Contrary to popular assumption, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. Mexican Independence Day is September 16 — and dates back to 1810, more than 50 years before the first Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo marks the date of a Mexican military victory over France — not Spain. On May 5, 1862, several hundred Mexican soldiers defeated a much larger contingent of the French army in the Battle of Puebla. France had sent troops to Mexico after the country suspended payments on foreign debts. Although Mexico ultimately lost this war (and the French did not withdraw until several years later), the Battle of Puebla was a huge morale booster for Mexicans.

It was a David-vs.-Goliath situation, as the French army was then considered one of the best in the world. If only more Americans knew this! For if Americans love anything, it’s come-from-behind victories.

It also might surprise people that Cinco de Mayo is more of a big deal in the U.S. than Mexico. Though the date is a holiday in Mexico, it is celebrated mostly in Puebla, the site of the 1862 battle. In the U.S., the observance of Cinco de Mayo is thought to have originated among Mexican laborers in the in the mid-1800s as a celebration of national pride.

A century later, Mexican-American activists in the 1960s claimed it as a symbol of ethnic identity. Then corporations discovered Cinco de Mayo as a way to market to Latino consumers, and the holiday went mainstream. So here is a celebration that began among lowly immigrant workers that has now been recognized by Madison Avenue and Wall Street. It’s a process that mirrors the assimilation of Latinos into the fabric of society.

Cinco de Mayo is an imported celebration that has now become as American as the Fourth of July. How amazing is that?

Unfortunately, the American celebration of Cinco de Mayo often results in a parade of stereotypes. Last year alone: An MSNBC morning show apologized for a misguided segment that featured a producer shaking a maraca and doing a shot of tequila; an ABC News anchor apologized for wearing a sombrero and adopting an accent on what she called “Cinco de Drinko”; a Seattle radio station drew anger from local Hispanics after sponsoring a festival that encouraged people to “come dressed in the celebratory attire of festive Mexico”; and at a North Carolina college, some students took offense at Cinco de Mayo being observed with students donning sombreros and chocolate “mustaches.”

The sad thing about all these incidents is that the parties involved probably had a good impulse to mark Cinco de Mayo. Yet they showed poor judgment in how they did it.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating Cinco de Mayo at a local bar or restaurant. I just hope people remember that there is more to it than Corona happy hours. Cinco de Mayo remains a meaningful date in Mexico and a point of pride for Mexican-Americans as well. Besides, we can never go wrong by showing a bit of cultural sensitivity. Just consider how it would strike us if we saw another country marking the Battle of Gettysburg with binge drinking and Uncle Sam hats.

This Cinco de Mayo, let’s ditch the sombreros, fake accents, and mustaches. Instead let’s honor the shared heritage of Mexico and the U.S. with joy and without stereotypes.

In fact, I’ll drink to that.”

As many North Americans and others throughout the world consider celebrating Cinco de Mayo, we should remember to celebrate respectfully, honoring the Mexican heritage that it represents.