Today is May 5, 2021

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Cinco de Mayo

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Cinco de Mayo celebrates the 1862 defeat of the French by the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla. That battle occurred during the Franco-Mexican War, which was an invasion of Mexico launched by the French in 1861. The French invaded Mexico as a result of newly elected Mexican President Benito Juarez’s decision to suspend interest payments on loans the country took out from foreign countries. France was one such creditor, but the French were not the only country to send troops to Mexico in response to Juarez’s decision. Spain and Great Britain also sent troops to Veracruz, but both countries entered negotiations with Mexico and ultimately withdrew their forces. However, France, under the leadership of Napoleon III, wanted to ensure access to Latin American markets. The French naval fleet’s arrival in Veracruz forced President Juarez and his government to retreat. Months later, Juarez’s force of 2,000 squared off against 6,000 French troops at the Battle of Puebla. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Mexican forces claimed victory, losing fewer than 100 men while French casualties numbered nearly 500. While the victory itself did not prove a major win in the war against the French, it symbolized the strength of the Mexican people and served to strengthen the resistance movement. Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in Mexico, but has grown into a popular celebration of Mexican culture in the United States


Serve up homemade salsa this Cinco de Mayo

Much like St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by people with no trace of Irish heritage, Cinco de Mayo has become a day of celebration for people who do not trace their ancestry to Mexico. In fact, notes that Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, where the day commemorates a symbolic yet not significantly strategic win by a heavily outnumbered Mexican army over French forces sent by Napoleon III to establish an empire on Mexican land. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a day to commemorate Mexican culture, including its much-loved cuisine.

Food is front and center at many Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Home cooks hosting friends or those who simply want to enjoy some homemade Mexican fare this Cinco de Mayo can try their hands at this recipe for “Fiery Corn Salsa” from Kelley Cleary Coffeen’s “200 Easy Mexican Recipes” (Robert Rose).

Fiery Corn Salsa

Makes 2 cups

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed

lime juice

2 teaspoons minced fresh


3 tomatoes, seeded and diced

11/2 cups corn kernels

2 to 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded

and diced

Salt and freshly ground black


  1. In a large bowl, combine oil, lime juice and cilantro. Add tomatoes, corn and jalapeño to taste. Mix well until corn mixture is well coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Tip: In place of the corn kernels, you can used canned corn, drained; frozen corn, thawed; or corn from the cob, cooked on the stove top. For a smoky flavor, use corn grilled on the barbecue grill.


Hand Hygiene Day

Answering common questions about handwashing

Prior to 2020, people may never have imagined they would devote so much of their focus to handwashing. But handwashing took center stage in 2020, as organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touted it as an important safety measure against the COVID-19 virus.

It’s understandable to question if something as simple as handwashing can really help combat potentially deadly viruses like COVID-19. But the CDC notes that handwashing is one of the best ways people can protect themselves and their families from getting sick. Understanding just how handwashing works may help people better understand how this simple gesture can potentially save so many lives.

How does handwashing remove germs?

The CDC notes that soap and water worked into a lather trap and remove germs and chemicals from hands. Water is a vital component of handwashing, especially when it’s applied to hands before soap. Water helps develop a better lather than people will get when applying soap to dry hands. That’s important because a good lather forms pockets known as micelles that trap and remove germs from hands.

Why is it important to wash hands for 20 seconds?

Prior to the pandemic, many people likely had no idea that proper handwashing calls for washing hands for 20 seconds. So why so long? The CDC notes that studies have found that hands need to be scrubbed for 20 seconds in order to remove harmful germs. Washing for anything less than 20 seconds runs the risk of leaving germs on your hands.

Should I use antibacterial hand soap?

It might surprise some to learn that the CDC says antibacterial hand soap is not necessary for anyone outside of professional health care settings. Studies have found no added health benefit of using antibacterial soap as opposed to plain soap and water. So consumers should not fret if they can’t find any antibacterial hand soap on their next trip to the grocery store.

Should I use warm or cold water?

According to the CDC, when combined with soap, water removes the same amount of germs whether it’s warm or cold. Water’s role in handwashing is to help create a lather, and lathers can be created with hot or cold water.

When should I wash my hands?

Hands should be washed any time they are visibly dirty or greasy. The CDC also recommends washing hands:

  • before, during and after preparing food
  • before eating
  • before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • before and after treating a cut or wound
  • after using the toilet
  • after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • after touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • after handling pet food or pet treats
  • after touching garbage

Handwashing is as effective as public health officials insist it is, which is why it should be a vital component of everyone’s daily health care routine.