May 4, 2008

Quatro de Mayo

Most folks tend to hold annual Cinco de Mayo celebrations that consist of going out to eat at a Mexican restaurant and ordering a Corona Light or a Margarita. Not our family. That stuff is for Gringos. No, our family celebrates the Quatro de Mayo, a lesser known ethnic celebration, rich in tradition and honor. If you've never heard of such a holiday, let me walk you through some of the basics.

The day starts off with the elders in the village teaching the youngsters wood working skills. Here, Jeremy teaches Henry the fine art of assembling a new kitchen table probably made of some sort of wood indigenous of old Mexico. Notice the fine motor skills Henners exhibits as he uses the Alejandro Wrench for the first time. He's used the Allen Wrench before, but it's Quatro de Mayo, so today we use it's Latin cousin, the Alejandro.

Lot's of patience. Muy bien, muchacho.

Did I also mention that on the Quatro de Mayo, it is customary to use as much third year Spanish, or Espanol, that you remember from high school. Si. All day, Jeremy and I were asking Henry to put on his pantalones and to arriba.

Here, the Elder assists the nino with some detail of the chair.

See how happy the Elder is to have his young son trabajoing next to him. (I can't conjicate verbs too well anymore. I'm a bit rusty.)

Si, feliz indeed.

These are skills passed down from padre to son go back generations. We're pretty sure furniture in a box will be huge during Henry's lifetime.

Back in old Mexico, during the Quatro celebration, the ninos and ninas in the village would hide small colorful toys or handmade candy in the family's living quarters. This was typically done at night while the adults were sleeping. Even historians are baffled as to the origin and it's significance. In modern times, this custom has been adapted to include larger toys, balled up socks, fruit snack wrapers, DVD covers and discarded blankets. Our children left exactly those things for us strewn about our living room floor. Tradition is very important to Henry and Reesie.

Yay! Madre y Padre were so happy to find these "treats". We picked them up knowing that this "mess" was all part of the Quatro experience. Ah, ninos! You are so much fun during the holidays.

Also part of the fun? The stealing of the guacamole. Many think this tradition started out as some sort of tribute to the avacado crops that riped around the first part of February (strangely enough, that is also Super Bowl weekend). Our interpretation included, me preparing the tasty dip and Henry eating as much of it he could in one sitting.

Ah, si, little man. You are definitely muy bien at stealing the guac.

Reesie was unable to take part of the thievery due in part to her age. She just sat near by and gave Henry dirty looks for eating in front of her. As far as we know, this is not a customary practice in Quatro de Mayo. So, good on ya, Reesie for bringing something new to the table.

Instead of guacamole, Reesie ate her new favorite snack, banana puffs. Except for today, we called them puffs de plantane. Ole!

After a short siesta, the familia sat down for a wonderful Mexican meal of homade chile rellanos, garden fresh salsa and meat and chorizo tacos. Also, we put lime, or limon, in our coke. We were so authentic it was awesome.

After dinner, as customary down south on this day, the children played with colorful play-dough balls. Here's Reesie enjoying hers.

Here's Henners using advanced techniques. Clearly, this was not his first Quatro de Mayo.

Donde esta los ninos pantelones?

That last phrase was from pure memory, people! In addition to asking where the child's pants are, I can also ask where the bathroom is, tell you I have a cat in my pants and tell you that my pencil is yellow. I'm a wizard at third year Spanish.

Reesie rolls the amarillo (yellow) dough around in her manos.

She holds it up to her cabeza. (That means head. I forgot the word for mouth)

Mirra how bonita ella es!

Si, muy bonita.

The next part of the celebration consists of feats of strength. This year, to demonstrate his talents, Henry thought he'd drag me down the hall. Henry es muy strong.

For Reesie's feat of strength, she attempted push ups on the floor. She actually did quite well. I didn't document this, but trust us, it happened.

The celebration begins to wind down with the Elders reading the child's favorite book to them. She how the child loves this tradition.

After all the dough playing and reading, the men of the house recline in bed and eat Mexican Angel Food cake. If I'm not mistaken, I believe the official name is Food Cake de Los Angelos.

So next year, if you want to steer clear of all the crowds at Cafe Rio, Baha Fresh or other authentic Mexican eateries on Cinco de Mayo, please visit us for Quatro de Mayo. The lesser known, but perhaps mas fun celebracion!

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