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May 5th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Mon Dieu! There’s a French Design Story Behind the May 5 Festivities

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Cinco de Mayo is one of those embarrassing holidays that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to many Americans who celebrate it. (St. Patrick’s Day anyone?) While it’s generally an excuse to have a margarita and eat guacamole, there is a fairly common misconception that Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of independence in Mexico. In reality, May 5 commemorates the Mexican army’s unexpected 1862 victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla. While the holiday has little significance outside of the Mexican state of Puebla and the United States (where it has really become more of a celebration of Mexican pride), it does bear some importance in terms of a relatively little-known era in Mexico’s past. The French intervention in Mexico lasted only six years — from 1861 to 1867 — but the influence of the French on Mexican culture was more far reaching. French colonial and baroque styles in particular greatly impacted Mexican architecture and design well into the 20th century. These subtle (and not so subtle) elements reveal another side to the Cinco de Mayo story. Here are 9 design influences the French left behind:

January 18th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Some architectural styles are classic while others are more temporary in nature. The Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin China paradoxically combines the two, except the temporary nature is because of the building material itself.  This snow city rises each year, only to return to water with the changing of seasons. As for me, this one is definitely on my “bucket list”!

Photo Credit: A tourist visits an ice sculpture for the 26th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival at a park in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China on January 3, 2010, (REUTERS/Aly Song)

“In frigid northeastern China, in the city of Harbin is hosting its 26th annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Massive buildings built of ice from the frozen surface of the nearby Songhua River, large scale snow sculptures, ice slides, festival food and drinks can be found in several parks in the city. At night, visitors who endure the bitter cold will see the lights switched on, illuminating the sculptures from both inside and outside. This year’s festival opened yesterday, January 5th, and will remain open until some time in February.”

Visit the Boston Globe article for a full visual tour.

 



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