bill-swift - May 4, 2012
Saturday is Cinco de Mayo, that special day when it is socially acceptable to drink tequila until you puke. All around the country, Americans will be celebrating this spiciest of holidays. But let me ask you a question: What is Cinco de Mayo? The truth is most people have no idea. Ask anyone on the street, I guarantee that 9 out of ten people won't know the answer. This includes Mexican-Americans and other Latinos. Cinco de Mayo has become the Latin equivalent of St. Patrick's Day, a day when everyone is Latino and can whip out the stereotypes in the name of alcoholism. So, this weekend, you can tell all your buddies these Cinco de Mayo facts while you are still coherent enough to talk.
Cinco De Mayo Is Not Mexican Independence Day
Mexican Independence day happens on September 16. On that day in 1810, Roman Catholic priest/revolutionary badass Miguel Hidalgo gave the famous Grito de Dolores, in which he declared Mexico's independence from Spain. It's equivalent to our Declaration of Independence, except with less powdered wigs. Mexico would go on to fight a long war with Spain for its true independence, but that was the day they told the "Ethpañoles" to get their tapas eating butts back to "Ethpaña".
Cinco De Mayo Commemorates The Battle of Puebla
In 1862, Mexico had once again been conquered by a colonial power. The French had begun their "intervention" in Mexico. Napoleon III set up his relative Archduke Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico. In spite of having one of the most awesome beards of all time, ol' Maxi was not welcome. The Mexicans rose up against the Frenchies in a bloody revolt. Mexican forces defeated the French outside of the town of Puebla. This victory eventually led to the collapse of the French-Mexican empire and the execution of Maximilian. Poor guy. We all know his beard was the real power behind the throne.
Cinco De Mayo Is Not A Big Deal in Mexico
In fact, it's rarely celebrated except in the city of Puebla. No one in the rest of the country seems to care. On September 16th, on the other hand, there are huge festivals including an impressive fireworks display in Mexico City's Zocalo. We're not that different. Do you know which day Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox ending the Civil War? Or what day Washington defeated Cornwallis at the battle of Yorktown? No, you don't. The day we commemorate as important is when a bunch of rich dudes in pantyhose sent off an F you letter to the king of England.
Cinco De Mayo Is Just An Excuse To Get Drunk And Eat Tacos
One of the reasons Cinco de Mayo became so popular here in the US has to do with advertising. Alcohol companies are looking for any reason to promote copious consumption of their product. Ditto with Tex-Mex restaurants. Starting in the 70's, Americans began "discovering" Mexican cuisine and culture. Food and booze companies realized that they could make a killing selling their wares on Cinco de Mayo. So, much like Valentine's Day is largely a result of the greeting card and chocolate industry, you can thank Corona and Taco Bell for Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco De Mayo Is Not A Pan-Latino Festival
Somehow over the years Cinco de Mayo became a holiday to celebrate not only Mexican pride, but general Latinoness. Why? If the Mexicans in Mexico don't even care about Cinco de Mayo, why should the rest of us? I'm Cuban-American, what does a group of Mexicans defeating the French army 140 years ago have to do with me? Nothing. Much of the problem is due to ignorance on the part of many Americans about Latinos. Many of them think that we are all Mexicans. So, don't ask me what my family is doing for Cinco de Mayo. Chances are my mom is just going to go to Payless and I'm going to eat a microwaveable Hot Pocket.
Article By Jack Tomas
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