Cinco de Mayo or for you non-Spanish majors, the 5th of May, is upon us. It is not Mexico’s Independence Day which is in fact September 16. Cinco de Mayo is not a federal Mexican holiday at all. Its first observance actually began in the state of California. That’s right. The U-S-of-A. To this day, the festivities include indulgence in traditional Mexican food, drink, music, and dance.
I’m not a fan of ignorance – not even when ignorance comes in vacuum-packed, travel-sized, cute packages that seemingly harm no one. It’s one of my pet peeves that some people choose to simply embrace and consume ignorance rather than question what, where, or why behind something.
The why behind the celebration dates back to a history that is rife with Mexico’s refusal to make interest payments to France. The French’s decision to invade and occupy Mexico was initially successful, but the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, in the city of Puebla found the French defeated by Mexico’s fervor.
On September 16, 1862, President Juárez declared that the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla would be a national holiday, regarded as “Battle of Puebla Day” or “Battle of Cinco de Mayo”. Although today it is recognized in some countries as a day of Mexican heritage celebration, it is not a federal holiday in Mexico.
Meanwhile in these yet-to-be-United-States-of-America, on Cinco de Mayo, the ignorant take time from bashing, banning, and blaming people of Mexican descent to “celebrate” Mexican heritage. They articulate this “honor” through debauchery, Mexican food, and an overabundance of alcohol while perpetuating the stereotype of sombreros and big mustaches. (sigh) I digress.
Perhaps the hatemongering vigilantes at the border who want to make America great again will relax their rifles on the 5th of May to commune with the very people that they ignorantly vilify.
For the rest of us, we salute the fervor and heritage of both Mexicans and Mexican Americans. I love you.
Feliz Cinco de Mayo, Feliz Mes de Mayo and Feliz Todo el 2019!