In 1924, Mexican president Alvaro Obregon of Mexico declared April 30 Día del Niño, or Day of the Child, following the League of Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child in the same year. Although it is not an official holiday on the school calendar, activities at school may include special presentations for the parents, with many schools celebrating the day before so that the children can have a day off.
Mexico celebrates many, many holidays that we don’t even think about. It’s core to a culture that loves to celebrate, but also one that values every member of the community in a way we once may have in this country, but have forgotten– or maybe still lives here only in small communities. There is Grandparent’s Day on August 28th, Dia del Albanil on May 3rd, which celebrates housebuilders and bricklayers so important because they create the houses that Mexicans will call “home” when completed, and Teacher’s Day on May 15th.
Some favorite treats that are loved by Mexican children are:
Paletas- fruit popsicles made famous in the U.S by Fany Gerson, who sells them in her sweets shop in New York City, and shares recipes in her cookbook of the same name
Albondigas- Mexican meatballs with the surprise treat of a hardboiled egg in the middle.
Gelatina – if you’ve travel to Mexico, or live in the city with a large Mexican population, you’ve probably seen them in pushcarts: pretty little gelatin desserts with raisins, nuts, or food feelings usually layered. Gelatin dessert is eaten almost daily and 90% of Mexican homes. Mexicans consume more gelatin desserts than nearly any other country in the world. Whether it’s a birthday party, baptism, or Dia del Niño, the desert selection usually includes a beautifully crafted gelatin.
Alegrias: Happy Amaranth Cakes- think of these like Rice Krispy treats, but healthier (amaranth is one a group of grains that has been labeled as a “superfood” for its multitude of health benefits)
Happy Amaranth Cakes / AlegrÍas
(MAKES 20 PIECES)
2 cups sugar
½ cup honey 2 cups water
2 cups water
1 lb toasted amaranth
4 large ring molds, or baking pan
½ cup mix of raisins and almonds or peanuts (optional)
In a large pot add sugar, honey, and water and stir until the mix becomes a syrup and has reached the hard-ball stage, 245º on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add amaranth, raisins, and nuts (if desired). Mix well with a wooden spoon until you get a paste-like consistency. Place mix inside ring molds and press them down to form tight patties. Remove mold and cut patties in four pieces. Allow to cool completely and wrap cakes with plastic wrap.
You can also spread the mixture on a large baking sheet or wooden board. Press it to a uniform thickness of a ½ inch, using a rolling pin. Cool the mixture for about 2 minutes, until partially set, then cut it into finger-size strips or squares.
Wrap the pieces individually in plastic wrap and store in a tin for up to 1 month.
Feature image of Mazahua Girls in Traditional Dresses by Jorge Ontiveros from Celebraciones Mexicanas: History, Traditions and Recipes. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
According to the 2010 Mexican census, 116,240 speakers of the Mazahua language reside in the State of Mexico. (Mexican census identifies and counts indigenous people based on the language spoken), and account for 53% of all indigenous speakers in the state. Smaller population groups also inhabit the Mexican states of Michoacan and Queretaro. Their folk religious practices combine elements of Catholicism and traditional, pre-conquest beliefs, including continuing the practice of New Fire Day on March 19.