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Forget Cinco de Mayo but not Diez de Mayo

Even after winning its Independence, on September 27, 1821 Mexico suffered numerous setbacks in its attempt to form a stable republic. This included the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) won by the United States, which resulted in Mexico surrendering approximately half of its territory.

Following this war, Mexico suffered a severe economic crisis in the 1850's. In 1861, French, Spanish and English troops went to Mexico to collect debts the newly elected President, Benito Juarez, was unable to pay. The English and Spanish came to agreements with the new President and left.

The French, however, noticing that the U.S. was occupied by its own civil war and not likely to interfere, had visions of a Mexican Empire under the rule of the French Prince Maximilian and his ambitious wife, Carlotta.

Although the French Army had not been defeated in 50 years, it was beaten by a small band of Mexicans under the command of General Zaragoza in the City of Puebla in a battle known as La Batalla de Puebla, using only rudimentary weaponry and clever, unorthodox tactics.

Meanwhile, Mexican miners in California's gold country were anxiously waiting news about the French invasion. When they belatedly heard the news of the Puebla victory they were overcome with joy, spontaneously celebrating by firing rifles in the air, setting off fireworks, making speeches, singing patriotic songs, and establishing it as a popular day of celebration for Mexicans in California. In the 1960s, it became even more popular in the U.S. when Mexican American activists adopted it as a symbol of pride. And it has continued as such in the U.S., while it is barely remembered in Mexico -- since it's not Independence Day.

May 10th, on the other hand, is "Dia de las Madres," Mother's Day in Mexico, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. Families, and especially the mother, hold a special place in the hearts of Mexicans. Although not an official holiday, it is a widely celebrated, distinctive day. It is a genuine tribute to the effort, sacrifice, dedication, and eternal motherly affection of the cherished "Madre" who is the heart of the Mexican "La Familia."

It is basically impossible to conduct any serious business and in reality you should not be trying to on that day. Everyone's focus is on Mothers, organizing a celebration like none before, such as arranging for singing "Mariachis" to usher in a perfect mood at the break of day, buying that extra special gift, contacting family members for last minute coordination of the event, and doing a hundred things that need to be done to make the day a memorable one for the honored Mother.

Mothers are honored with a poem, a rose, a song, a hug, or a kiss. Elementary schools pay tribute to them with a performance followed by a special Mothers' social event. They are often taken to an out-of-the-ordinary dining experience or to a traditional meal prepared and served at a family member's home in the presence of many extended family members and adored grandchildren. The day is also celebrated with a mass at the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, where an orchestra plays "las mañanitas" for the Virgin.

Female factory workers are often given a present by the company and honored for their current or future role, and treated to a cake with mariachi accompaniment. Mothers may be brought to the office for a tour of the place where their offspring work. In some places, working mothers can take the day off and in some others people leave early for the celebration.

If you have business in Mexico, use the opportunity to demonstrate respect, understanding, and consideration by offering your help in whatever way you can. Lend your support so your counterpart or workers can perform their customary ritual obligations of reuniting as a family, paying their respects with an out-flowing of gratitude.

In this way, you grow the company's extended family.

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Rowland & Associates is a premier cross-cultural consulting firm, providing essential international business skills since 1985. Our passion is bringing intercultural business success through heightened insight and agility. We believe that bold steps with exceptional preparation can create dynamic solutions.


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