Cinco de Mayo: A Distinctly American Celebration of Mexico
Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is a day to commemorate the Battle of Puebla in the Franco-Mexican war––a victorious day for the Mexican Army on May 5th, 1862. It was a classic case of the triumphant underdog. The Mexican army had only 2,000 soldiers while the French had a daunting 6,000-man army.
The unanticipated victory of the Mexican army holds a special place in the country’s heart, for it also helped facilitate the resistance movement at the time. While this battle further developed Mexican nationalism, it is also widely celebrated in America and hence confused with Mexican Independence Day.
Interestingly enough, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated by more people in America than in Mexico itself. In Mexico, celebrations generally center in Puebla with military parades, re-creations of the Battle and other festivities scattered throughout Mexico.
In the United States, however, it is used as a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture with food, drinking, and parties. According to a 2018 nationaltoday.com survey, only 10% of Americans know the origin of Cinco de Mayo.
Some Mexican-Americans take offense to these festive celebrations in America. Cinco de Mayo celebrations became popular for Mexicans specifically in the southwestern states immediately following the U.S.-Mexico War as symbols of Mexico’s resilience and a discontent with America’s policies and promises. As years passed, however, American adults adopted the celebrations as a day to drink in bars, dance, and enjoy popular Mexican cuisine.
What do you think Titans: Is America’s participation in Cinco de Mayo celebrations good for the recognition of Mexico’s rich culture? Or is it an inconsiderate excuse to have a fun night?
No matter your opinion, be careful on the roads this Thursday. On Cinco de Mayo in 2019, 47 people died of drunk driving, accounting for 38% of all traffic deaths, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
No matter how you spend your holiday, ¡feliz Cinco de Mayo a todos!