Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo.

Oaxacan embroidery by RR

Growing up in Mexico I don't remember celebrating Cinco de Mayo.
Not once.
So when I moved to the States I found it very puzzling that it is the ultimate Gringo-Mexican celebration and, frankly, it used to irritate me (just search for images about it on line and you will find tons of incredibly offensive stereotypes). Even more annoying was that people attribute the date to the Mexican Independence, which is wrong.

Why celebrate so excessibly such a random date? That I know of, maybe just Puebla celebrates cinco de Mayo, but for the rest of Mexico it is just the anniversary of an 1862 battle against the French mentioned in passing at school.

The best explanation I have heard about the randomness of the holiday is that the American government did not feel right to celebrate any of the major Mexican Holidays like Febuary 24th (Flag Day), September 16th (Independence Day) and November 20th (Revolution Day) because they commemorate Mexico's sovereignty and thus observing any of those dates could give all the mexican immigrants a reason to up raise. 
Their solution was to choose an "innocuous" date (but is it realy?).

Voilá, Cinco de Mayo!

As time has gone by I have come to embrace the holiday (as well as burritos, something else that was completely new to me when I immigrated to the States).

After all, any excuse is a good excuse for a party.

And a Mexican party? Even better!

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!

Tequila image from here


  1. I think Cinco de Mayo has become such a big holiday in the US because 5/5 is such a perfect date and early May is such a perfect time for a party!! Anyway, our culture thrives on stereotypes (unfortunately).

  2. I feel bad being a part of the gringa exploitation RR. Americans manage to exploit pretty much every other country. It is depressing we even screw people with made up celebrations. Yay, America, ugh. But hey, at least I'm not eating burritos, right?! It is just so hard for me to resist any reason to celebrate, and have a drink. I may as well be a frat boy.

  3. Please don't feel bad, Clare.
    My discomfort came from my own experience trying to adjust to a new culture and its ways.
    After all, Cinco de Mayo is not a completely made up celebration, since it is the anniversary of an actual event in Mexican history. And a very important one, too.
    Like John implied, May is the perfect time of the year for Margaritas and Guacamole. I will be having some myself!
    As I said, any excuse for a party is a good excuse.
    Happy Cinco de Mayo!

  4. This is so awesome. I was in Oaxaca in 2002 for Cinco de Mayo and fully expected a huge party. I was traveling alone and staying at a hostel, and had made friends (ok flirty friends and only a little bit) with the owner. The people I talked to about "where is the party?" were baffled. And now every Cinco de Mayo I tell people exactly this! It makes no sense that we celebrate it here. But I think your reasoning is right on.


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