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Growing up in Mexico, May 5th was just an ordinary day. It was not thought of and continues not to be thought of, as the Cinco de Mayo, but rather just as el cinco de mayo. 

Contrary to popular belief in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is not a major holiday celebrated throughout Mexico or a major national holiday at all. The majority of people go to work and businesses continue to run like normal. No big parties or celebrations are organized, and politicians do not deliver special messages to the public or media. It is a rather ordinary day. 

One can say the day is only special and significant based on personal circumstances. The day can be special or significant if it mark’s somebody’s birthday, anniversary, or personal success. Outside of personal reasons, the day holds little national significance. 

Most importantly Cinco de Mayo does not signify Mexico’s Day of Independence. However, Cinco de Mayo does signify La Batalla de Puebla. The Batalla de Puebla honors Mexico’s victory at Puebla, Mexico over the French Empire’s invasion in 1862. 

The state of Puebla is mainly the only region in Mexico where large celebrations are organized to commemorate the day. While schools are closed nationwide on the day, students mainly see the event as a day off of school. When I attended school in Mexico, we did learn about the Batalla de Puebla, but its national and historical significance was overshadowed by other major holidays such as El Dia de la Independencia and El Dia de la Revolucion. For Mexicans in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a day of remembrance rather than a day of celebration.

When I moved to the United States, I was surprised by the large significance that is given to the holiday in the country. I was surprised by the elaborate celebrations of people of Mexican origin and descent, but also the celebrations of people from other cultures and backgrounds.

It seems that Cinco de Mayo for a lot of people in the United States has come to signify a day of partying and having fun. Certainly, businesses throughout the country are able to profit from the celebrations. Restaurants, bars, and clubs hold special events to attract people to celebrate on their premises. Beer companies, especially Mexican beer companies, have learned to capitalize on the celebration. 

Outside of the capitalist and profit sectors, Cinco de Mayo has come to signify something more positive in the United States. The day has come to be a celebration of Mexican culture, people, and traditions. Individuals of Mexican descent are given the opportunity to celebrate their roots and history, and openly display pride in their heritage. 

As a Mexican who knows about and has seen the nature of the celebration both in Mexico and the United States, I am not opposed to the celebration and commemoration of Cinco de Mayo. However, I do think that people in the United States should learn more about the history and the significance of the day. It should be recognized as more than an opportunity to party and to profit. For a lot of individuals of Mexican descent, the day is more than just an open invitation to party, it signifies a celebration of identity. 

Maria Martinez Castro is a third-year at UC Davis majoring in English with a minor in Professional Writing. She enjoys going on road trips with friends, reading, writing, roller skating, and dancing in her free time. Maria hopes to pursue a career in journalism after graduation and create meaningful change in the field of social justice with her writing.
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