Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Papel Picado

Cinco de Mayo Papel Picado
papel picado is a traditional Mexican folk art created for holidays and celebrations

papel picado is a traditional Mexican folk art created for holidays and celebrations

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo…do you know what that means? Most people incorrectly associate this holiday with the celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day, but that is actually September 12th. Interestingly, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more as a Mexican-American holiday than it is in Mexico, much like St.Patrick’s Day isn’t celebrated in Ireland to the same extent it is in the US. So, what does Cinco de Mayo commemorate?

In 1862, while the US was fighting the Civil War, Napoleon strategically invaded Mexico in an attempt to gain territory. In the state of Puebla, there was a major battle and although the small Mexican army was the underdog, they won the battle of Puebla on May 5th. For more information about the history and evolution of Cinco de Mayo, check out this interesting article, “When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Cinco de Mayo,” published today on time.com and written by professor José M. Alamillo of California State University Channel Islands.

Regardless of Cinco de Mayo being a lesser holiday in Mexican culture, it has gained a strong foothold in America over the last few decades (mostly due to the advertising campaigns of beer and alcohol companies, such as Corona) and is a very popular holiday. Personally, I think Cinco de Mayo is an opportunity to reflect on the cultural diversity of our country and teach our children about Mexican history and traditions. I am a big advocate of embracing individual cultural identity as well as the appreciation and celebration of multiculturalism.

I’ve recently been doing a lot of research on paper-cutting art and dug a little deeper into the beautiful tradition of Mexican papel picado, or paper-punching/ perforation. It turns out that this traditional art form is most heavily rooted in the Mexican state of Puebla, where Cinco de Mayo originates. The history of papel picado is an amalgamation between Asian, European, and Aztec (Pre-Columbian) techniques that over the centuries has evolved into something uniquely Mexican.

Almost every culture has some form of paper-cutting art form, which I plan to explore more through future blog posts. Today though, I would like to share with you a fun way for you to teach children about the art form of papel picado as a way to discuss the origins of Cinco de Mayo, how the holiday has evolved into a Mexican-American holiday, and the importance of cultural diversity and respect in our global society.

Resources:

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Cinco de Mayo

Why do we Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Papel Picado: A Traditional Mexican Folk Art

Catalina Delgado-Trunk: The History and Tradition of Papel Picado (YouTube video)

Artisans of Huixcolotla (Puebla, Mexico) Give Life to Papel Picado for Dia de Muertos (YouTube Video in Spanish from Puebla Noticias)

Materials:

tissue paper, scissors, string, stapler

tissue paper, scissors, string, stapler

  1. Tissue Paper (in various colors)
  2. Scissors
  3. String
  4. Stapler

 

 

“Cinco de Mayo is an opportunity to reflect on the cultural diversity of our country and teach our children about Mexican history and traditions. I am a big advocate of embracing individual cultural identity as well as the appreciation and celebration of multiculturalism.”

Procedure:

  1. Stack a variety of tissue paper colors and carefully cut to your desired size. I cut mine 8×12, in order to make 8x1o sheets, since the top 2 inches need to be reserved for folding over the string for hanging.

    cut tissue paper to desired size, leaving room for folding top over string

    cut tissue paper to desired size, leaving room for folding top over string

  2. Fold the stack of tissue paper accordion-style 3 times. Then, fold the stack upward, leaving 2 inches at top so that you know where to stop cutting design to leave space for folding the tissue paper over the string.
    fold tissue paper stack over in accordion-style

    fold tissue paper stack over in accordion-style

    fold in accordian style 3 times

    fold in accordian-style 3 times

    fold stack horizontally so that you leave a two inch space at top so you know where to fold over string

    fold stack horizontally so that you leave a two inch space at top so you know where to fold over string

  3. Begin cutting designs by cutting on the folded edge, cutting the bottom edge, and folding horizontally in several spots to cut into the middle of the paper. I even opened my accordion, then folded in half to make a new central fold to cut on.
    cut bottom edge, cut on folded edge, and fold horizontally to cut into middle spaces

    cut bottom edge, cut on folded edge, and fold horizontally to cut into middle spaces

    open, and then fold in half to give you a central line to cut on as well

    open, and then fold in half to give a central line to cut on as well

  4. Once you have made enough cuts in various sizes, shapes, and locations, unfold your papel picado.

    unfold tissue paper and prepare to attach to string

    unfold tissue paper and prepare to attach to string

  5. Now you are ready to start folding the individual sheets over the string and stapling the folds. Continue until you have created your desired length banner.
    fold top over string and staple

    fold top over string and staple

    make a couple staples across the folded edge

    make a couple staples across the folded edge

  6. Hang and enjoy your beautiful, colorful papel picado in honor of Mexican culture, heritage, and Cinco de Mayo!

    hang your paper picado and enjoy!

    hang your papel picado and enjoy!

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

blog portrait_thumbnail3hi! i’m trish, and welcome to my cozy home on the internet. i am an artist, art teacher, life-long-learner, and lover of life. there is not much i don’t love. some of my many favorites include creating with my hands, the color green, birds, smiling, and outdoor adventures. some of my not so favorite things include spiders, bell peppers, and math. (more...)

email subscription header

* indicates required