The first week of May is a busy one. We start with May Day (May 1), Star Wars Day (May 4), and Cinco de Mayo (May 5). To be frank, none of them should be considered drinking holidays unless you have a really punny cocktail like a Yodka tonic and make a toast that ends with “May the Fourth be with you”. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday marking a victory in battle. A possible American equivalent would be the Battle of Saratoga that ended on October 17th, when rebel troops forced Burgoyne’s British troops to retreat. We don’t break out the cheeseburgers and trucker hats to celebrate the victory in mid-October and we would certainly find it weird if other countries celebrated it as well. If you want to support Mexican businesses and restaurants on May 5th, we won’t chastise you – support local businesses! But please don’t use this day as an excuse to get drunk off margaritas while wearing sombreros and fake mustaches.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Things to keep in mind leading up to Friday:
1. It is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day.
It is the day the Mexican Army surprisingly defeated the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. This was during the Franco-Mexican War which lasted from 1861 to 1867, which was two years longer than the American Civil War. The real Mexico Independence Day is September 16th when they gained independence from Spain in 1810, fifty years before “Cinco de Mayo.”
2. It’s NOT a national holiday.
Cinco De Mayo is only an official holiday in the state of Puebla. However, public schools nationwide do close for the day. May 5th is just a normal day for most adults – since it is not a federal holiday, offices, banks and stores remain open.
3. This isn’t a big deal in Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo celebrations are in fact larger in the United States than they are in Mexico. The largest celebrations take place in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia
4. American Cinco de Mayo celebrations falsely acknowledge Mexican culture
The United States congress has issued a concurrent resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation that would call on people to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities. This resolution is an effort to acknowledge Mexico’s past struggles for Independence and the courage required of it’s people, inviting the American people to take the time to learn about Mexican culture. This is not meant to serve as a government supported round of tequila shots.
5. Cinco de Mayo serves as a reminder of how many times Mexico has been invaded.
Mexico gained independence on September 16th in 1810, but the battle of Puebla occurred 50 years later. Spain attempted to reconquer Mexico in the 1820’s, the Texas Revolution happened in 1835-1836, and multiple internal wars between the indigenous and government people occurred since the Mexican Indian Wars began in 1821.
If you feel a craving for Mexican food on May 5th, be sure to treat it like any normal day. The United States population has taken this insignificant holiday from another culture and transformed it into an excuse to get drunk and use horrible Mexican accents. Modern day Cinco de Mayo celebrations started in California by actual Mexican mineworkers who celebrated their nation’s victory. Since then, the celebration crossed over into other parts of the United States. In one of the authors opinions, this holiday was chosen because the USA needed a reason to party between St.Patrick’s Day/Easter and Memorial Day. However, you do find yourself out celebrating the festivities, make sure your companions know the true reason behind Cinco de Mayo.
Rep image provided by Wikimedia