Your Guide to Cinco de Mayo

Iz Gius May 5. Cinco de Mayo. Everyone’s favorite vaguely-historical, vaguely-racist holiday (not counting St. Patrick’s Day, that is). And even though the annual shenanigans have already passed for 2016, why not take the time to address some common misconceptions about the “celebration” of Mexican culture? “Cinco de Mayo is celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day.” FALSE Mexico’s Independence Day is actually September 16, not May 5. Cinco de Mayo, rather, celebrates a surprising victory of the small, poorly-equipped Mexican army against the powerful French army near Puebla. Although the battle wasn’t particularly significant, strategy-wise (although there are some connections to our very own Civil War, which was happening concurrently) it provided a symbolic victory and morale boost for the Mexican army and people. “Cinco de Mayo is an important holiday in Mexico.” FALSE May 5 marks a closing of all public schools in Mexico, but not much more than that. In the city of Puebla, where the actual battle occurred, there is a larger celebration and parade. On the whole, though, Cinco de Mayo is a much much bigger deal in America than it ever has been in Mexico. “Cinco de Mayo is honoring Mexican-American culture and traditions.” MAYBE On one hand, Cinco de Mayo can be an important opportunity to honor the contributions of Mexican-Americans, support local Mexican-American businesses, or acknowledge the importance of a culture different from your own. There is a long history of Mexican-American unity and celebration behind the holiday. But alcohol corporations capitalizing on Cinco de Mayo solely to rake in profits? Donald Trump and his taco bowl? Or even non-Latino twentysomethings (and dare I say it, Latin students) with sombreros and maracas and margaritas? Maybe not so much. To learn more about the origins of this holiday in the United States, click here.]]>