Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cinco de Mayo isn't Really About Mexico

Hola Meltingpot Readers,

Happy Cinco de Mayo. Do you know why we celebrate this day? Hint, it's not about Mexican independence, that day is actually celebrated in September. It's actually a day to commemorate the battle of Puebla when the Mexican army fought against the French.

So why all the sombreros, tacos and tequila contests on this day Stateside? I heard on NPR this morning that the holiday has been co-opted by Americans to sell beer and tequila. From ABC News:

" For the average Mexican, today is just another Wednesday, wrote Oscar Casares, a professor at the University of Texas-Austin.

'The holiday, which has never really been much of one in Mexico, crossed over to this side of the border in the 1950s and 1960s, as civil rights activists were attempting to build harmony between the two countries and cultures,' Casares wrote
.'" The article goes on, " "The date gained more attention in the 1980s when marketers, particularly beer companies, saw this as a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the celebratory nature of the holiday."

You can read the full story here.

So, my kids were told in honor of Cinco De Mayo they could wear a silly hat today to school. Hot lunch is enchiladas. There's a tequila festival at the local bowling alley. Is there anything wrong with this commercialization of a holiday? Especially when most people probably don't even know why they're celebrating?

What do you think? Are you doing anything to celebrate? My Mexican friends, do you celebrate on Cinco de Mayo? If so, how so?

I'm listening.



evelyn.n.alfred said...

The Spanish teachers at my school took some of the students to eat lunch at a Mexican resturant...and maybe something else. Also, when the Pledge of Allegiance was said today, it was in Spanish...

Anonymous said...

I never cared so much about Cinco de Mayo, though its incorrect labeling as Mexican Independence Day has always bothered me. My daughter was born on May 5 and people always comment on how she shares her birthday with the holiday, how people will always want to drink beer and tequila with her, how she's a "Mexicanita," and so on. I might find all that more irritating.

ieishah said...

The greatest thing was me saying to Spaniards, 'Today is Cinco de Mayo!' and them saying, 'El que??'