I’m not a fan of ignorance – not even when ignorance comes in vacuum-packed, personal-sized, pretty packages that seemingly harm no one. I guess it’s just one of my pet peeves that some people choose to look the other way rather than question the what, where, or why behind something.
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.
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 the U S of A 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.
For the rest of us, we salute the fervor and heritage of both Mexicans and Mexican Americans.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!