Posts in History & Traditions
My trip to Puebla Mexico

Oh my goodness!

The Puebla Collection is live and I’m so excited!

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I launched it on May 5th in honor of the battle against the French that was won in Puebla. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. After the Mexican-American War and the Reform War, Mexico was in quite a bit of debt. The president at the time asked for the debt repayment to be suspended for two years. Britain & Spain negotiated with Mexico. France did not, but rather sent an army to Veracruz to make their way to Mexico City. However, though the odds were not in Mexico’s favor, (with an army of 4,000 to the French army of 8,000) the Mexican Army met the French Army with strong resistance in Puebla. The French Army was defeated before reaching Mexico City. Puebla has a lot of amazing history and that’s why I wanted to visit and now share with you.

I first visited Puebla with my father in late 2018. I knew I wanted to return, so in early 2019 I invited my friend Jasmine from Authentic Adventure Co to come with me. This is a little bit about our 5 day trip.

Flight & Travel & Hotel

Jasmine and I decided to take a midnight flight into Mexico City so that we can make the most out of our time. There aren’t direct flights to Puebla, so flying into Mexico City was the best choice. For this trip we flew Aeromexico which is always my first choice when looking at flights. The 4 hour flight wasn’t too bad and we were able to nap a little bit. Once we got to CDMX (Mexico City) I bought a ticket to take a bus to Puebla. It’s typically a 2-3 hour drive depending on traffic. The buses we traveled on were so comfortable we were both able to nap on the ride.

Once in Puebla, we just took a taxi to the hotel. We stayed at the NH hotel, which was really nice. It was in the heart of the city which was ideal for me to be able to get out early to take pictures. I usually woke up for sunrise, and took pictures for an hour or so, and came back to the gym to work out before we set off for the day.


Workshops: Making salsas & pan mexicano

When we arrived at the hotel, we had about an hour before we had to head out to our first activity; a salsa making workshop. It was led by two very nice ladies who were very knowledgable, and took the time to explain how to make each one, and the reasons behind the ingredients we used. It was enlightening, to cook by seeing, and smelling, and tasting, rather than just following a recipe. We created 5 salsas total, and got to take them with us. (Which was a lot for us to eat in the 5 days we had there) We enjoyed a meal together to end our time.

Learning how to make typical Mexican foods is really important to me. Cooking at home wasn’t a big part of my childhood, so I don’t have many traditional meals to pass down to my kids. So, I’ve set out to learn how to make my favorite things, including pan mexicano.

The third day in Mexico we took our second workshop; a pan mexicano making workshop. Rebeca was so very nice to us as she invited us into her home to bake. She explained everything we did, and how ingredients react with each other. We even learned how the pressures of kneading, and rolling have an impact on the finished product. It was so fun. We ended up making conchas and cubiletes. Two traditional mexican breads in Mexico. I had never had a cubilete, but it was amazing.

With both workshops, we were given the recipes so that we can replicate them at home. I’ve been making salsa regularly, and will definitely try to make the pan mexicano soon too.

Trip to Cholula

Cholula is a nearby town in the state of Puebla. It’s a must-visit, especially on a Sunday. There is a very famous church on the top of a pyramid that you can walk up to. (Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de los Remedios) Once up there you have a view of some volcanos and most of Puebla. It’s beautiful. You’re also able to go inside the pyramid which is pretty amazing if you’ve never been inside one. Once outside the pyramid, you can look at the excavation process that’s happening outside the pyramid. There’s also a market area with vendors selling souvenirs, food, and drinks. There’s usually entertainment going on too, especially if you go on a Sunday. It’s a really nice town to spend the day enjoying.

Food Tour in Puebla

Puebla is rich with history. Part of that history is the food. I met a food expert, Rocio who has been studying and writing about the food in Puebla for a long time. She has a magazine and a podcast with a ton of historical and culinary information. When I visited Puebla last year with my father, she gave us an amazing food tour, taking us to places to eat all over the city. My time with her is honestly the only way I was able to make my way around Puebla this time. I was able to remember restaurants, and the places we visited.

We spent 4 hours with her listening to her tell us about Puebla’s history, and the different kinds of food that are native to Puebla. I left the tour feeling so full. (We ate a LOT.) It was great. This Jasmine was able to meet her too! Rocio has such a passion for what she does that she couldn’t help but tell us more about Puebla’s history. She took us to one of the oldest Panaderias in Puebla. We were able to peek inside and talk to them about their processes. It was fascinating and we of course got some bread to have with our coffee.

History & Closing & Collection

I admit that before I visited Puebla, I didn’t really know what to expect. Until two years ago I hadn’t really traveled to many cities in Mexico. I thought it was going to be a small town that would be fun to visit for a day. However, after the first day I fell in love with this city. The history alone has given me more clarity on my own cultural background. Being able to learn and discover alongside my father when we came in 2018 was equally amazing. And coming back with my friend who had never been to Mexico, and desired to learn more about her culture was an amazing experience for me to be a part of.

As I release a new collection from Puebla, I hope it leads to even more curiosity for exploring this amazing place. I am planning the first Mexico trip where I extend an invite to other’s who have the desire to learn more about Mexican history and have hands on experience learning Mexican traditions. If you’d like to stay in the loop for when the workshop is announced later this year, sign up here.

I’m so excited an honored to have been to Puebla, and am excited to share the experiences with even more people.

History | Dia de los Muertos

El Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that’s celebrated Oct 31st- Nov 2nd. I’ve been seeing the popularization of this holiday among main stream culture. With that, I’ve been feeling a little annoyed (for lack of a better word) because I feel that there’s really no understanding behind it, it just looks pretty, and if it looks pretty, it will sell. And what I don’t want to see happen, is that we lose the roots and culture of this special holiday.

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It’s great to have interest in Mexican culture, I love talking about this stuff with other people, so I’d like to help you understand a little more about how this holiday is routed in honor and culture — holding a deep meaning to those who celebrate it.

Origins

The Day of the Dead dates back to pre-Columbian cultures. That’s a LONG time ago; like before the Europeans came to Mesoamerica to colonize it. It’s always been a time to celebrate the death of ancestors and has evolved over time.

The celebrations evolved into the modern day festivities but were originally the entire 9th month of the Aztec calendar (August), and were dedicated to La Calavera Catrina or “Lady of the Dead”.

While it used to be celebrated in the summer it’s become associated with “All Saints Day, or All Souls Day”. It has evolved into a day to honor infants and children who have passed on Nov 1st, and a day to honor adults who have passed on Nov 2nd.

I’ve learned that it wasn’t until the 20th century that it was even celebrated in the northern parts of Mexico. Mexico is a predominantly Catholic country, so they celebrated “All Saints Day” like other Christians around the world. In the 1960s Mexico made Day of the Dead a national holiday, inviting the northern part of Mexico to also celebrate this tradition.

La Calavera

La Calavara Catrina is a lady depicted as a skeleton wearing only a large European style hat. It’s thought to have depicted the upper class, but it was said that "Death brings this neutralizing force; everyone is equal in the end. Sometimes people have to be reminded of that." (David de la Torre)

Mexican interpretation of death is unique from other cultures in that it uses offerings, songs, respect and humor. While other cultures interpret La Catrina differently, in Mexico, it’s thought that she represents the European culture being pressed upon Mesoamerica, but remind us that the bones within are still native.

tradition

The sugar skull is an image associated with day of the dead. People even get their face painted with intricate and beautiful designs. The calavera, is an artistic representation of a skull of a person who is deceased, and can often be made to depict certain characteristics of that person making them recognizable in skeleton form.

This is a beautiful tradition, but doing this as a Halloween costume or out of context can be seen as cultural appropriation.

Often the calaveras are placed on an alter reserved for family who has died. An alter or ofrenda is made in the home or on a grave site as a remembrance and an honor to the loved ones. They can include the person’s favorite foods, music, trinkets, along with candles, calaveras, marigold flowers, colorful decorations, and photos.

Marigolds—often used as decoration—are said to represent the fragility of life. They also serve as a guidance to the spirits as they come back to this world to feel the love of their family, and take that love back with them.

During this time, family time is very important. Stories are shared, and food is passed as everyone remembers those who are gone. It’s a celebration of life; of life passed, and of the lives that are still living. Death is nothing we should be afraid of, but rather as a reminder of the importance of our life now.

I understand wanting to be a part of a celebration like this, especially one that is full of joy, food and drinks. In other cultures, death is typically associated with sadness and grief. While there is definitely sadness to the death of loved ones, (I can’t even think about losing someone close to me without having anxiety) the Mexican culture has found a way to continue honoring that person’s life beyond the grave. Their memory stays alive. There’s joy, happiness, bright colors, and celebration. Rather than simply putting some sugar skulls on socks or t-shirts to wear them on the day, think about how it can affect your own life. Think about how you can truly understand someone else’s traditions, see the good in them, and respect them without trying to gain anything for yourself.

This is a nice video about Dia de los Muertos if you want to hear more.


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History | Hispanic Heritage Month
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We are at the end of Hispanic Heritage month. It started on Sept 15th and ended yesterday, October 15th. This observation started as just a week of acknowledgement in 1968 by Lyndon Johnson. In 1988 it was expanded to 30 days by Ronald Reagan. During this month we’re paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have influenced and enriched our nation and society.

How awesome is that!?

And to think, still at 30 years later, we’ve experienced such a setback from feeling accepted in this country, even if we are citizens. The celebration or acknowledgement of Hispanic/Latino history is huge, because it’s a way for people who aren’t Hispanic to get a glimpse of the historical impact that Latin American countries have had on the US. It’s so easy to stay comfortably in your own little towns hanging out with the same groups of people that are similar to you, while being ignorant of the beauty of other countries and cultures, especially the ones that border your own and have made a direct impact on your own personal freedoms.

Often I see people who might enjoy the culture and foods of different countries turn around and spew hatred toward the same culture that brought the foods they love to this country.

While having specific months to honor different groups of people, (Hispanic Heritage month in Sept/Oct, Black History month in February, Asian History month in May, and American Indian month in November) is a great thing where we can learn about different histories and cultures, I think of when Americans as a whole will show more appreciation, compassion and understanding for each other.

It starts somewhere. It starts with you, and me; teaching our kids how to love differences, and to celebrate different cultures.



History | Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo isn't Mexican Independence day. It is however, a day that Mexico commemorates winning the battle against the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 which happened 50 years after Mexico already won its independence (Sept 16, 1810).

So why did they have to fight this battle?

Mexico had debt that it couldn't pay due to previous wars, and the President, Benito Juarez, asked for a two year suspension to help recuperate. The French saw this as an opportunity and decided to invade Mexico to make it a French territory. There was a small army waiting for them when they arrived at the town of Puebla. Even though the French army outnumbered the Mexican army, the French army was defeated before they were able to get to Mexico City. Yay!

So why is it celebrated so much in the US?

This win was a symbol against French imperialism. The US helped Mexico push out the French for good. Around the same time of the Battle of Puebla, the Mexican Americans in the US used the victory as inspiration in their struggle with the Union during the Civil war. It's thought that if the French would have won in Puebla & the Mexico City, they would have aided the side of the Confederacy in the US.

The celebration of Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrated in the town of Puebla with a festival, parade, and music celebrations. In the US you'll also see celebrations. I think this is a great time to educate and teach others about Mexican and American history. It's important to know the significance of any holiday that you choose to celebrate. Rather than just jump at the chance to enjoy Mexican food, and have bottomless margaritas, take some time to learn not only about another culture, but also US history. Doing this will help with empathy, understanding, and humanity as a whole. Our kids will have a better future that way.


TWO EVENTS COMING UP THIS WEEK.

I've partnered with XO Marshmallow this week. I have a new collection hanging in their new cafe, and I'm going to be there hanging out TWICE this week and talking about the history of Cinco de Mayo. So come with any questions or with just your sweet tooth. 

Get your free tickets!

 
Traditions | Papel Picado

If you've seen the movie Coco you've seen the decoration known as "Papel Picado" or "pecked paper". These paper banners are most commonly displayed for holidays or religious occasions like Easter, Christmas, Day of the Dead, quinceñeras, baptisms, weddings. It was breathtaking to see the whole Day of the Dead land in the movie Coco to be so vibrantly decorated with papel picado. It's not usual that I see something like that in the US.

Papel picado came about during the 19th century. It was typically made by hand using a chisel. First, an intricate design is drawn on paper and covered with plastic to protect the original drawing. To make several copies at once they stack many thin tissue paper sheets together and chisel the design out. The stack is then picked apart and hung on a string with other papers that have different designs. This is similar to the Chinese paper cutting, but rather than being cut with scissors, in Mexico they use chisel.

The art of Papel Picado is officially recognized by the ministry of Tourism and culture in Mexico. San Salvador Huixcolotla in Puebla is known as the center of papel picado, but in the 1930s the art spread to other parts in Mexico. It was in the 1960s that papel picado made it's way to the United States and Europe. Now you'll see this decoration made out of different materials like plastic of thicker paper so that it can withstand the outdoors, or be a more permanent and sturdy decoration. 


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I have a new print called Papel Picado that I'll offer this summer in a new collection. Here's a sneak peek of it. I'll be announcing a launch date soon, but until then, be thinking and planning where in your home this print would be perfect to hang.

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