Just on the heels of Star Wars day – “May the 4th be with you…” (say it out loud if you don’t get it), is another, more widely celebrated and known holiday: Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May for all you non-Spanish speakers).
This is also an interesting holiday, in that it’s largely been co-opted by Americans and used as an excuse to get drunk (Coronas or tequila anyone!?). In some ways it’s kind of like St. Patrick’s day….regardless of the actual heritage or the actual meaning behind it, it has come to serve a (greater?) purpose – an excuse for a good party. Whenever I think about people celebrating and partying for Cinco de Mayo (especially after having been to college – where Cinco de Mayo is a sacred day), I always think back to my high school Spanish class where we learned that Cinco de Mayo isn’t actually that big of a deal in a lot of Mexico.
Wait a second – not that big a deal?! It’s their Independence Day! Don’t they have any national pride?!?
Well, actually it’s not.
And that’s only one of the confusions that a lot of Americans have. Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico’s independence day. That’s in September. Cinco de Mayo was a symbolically important victory for Mexico over France after the French had invaded Mexico – an event that had happened 50 years after Mexico had claimed its independence. (Check out a brief history here.)
But don’t let me ruin your fiesta. Continue to enjoy your Corona, margarita, or shots of tequila. Impress your friends with your knowledge of the language: “¿Dónde está mi cerveza?” And have a great time celebrating.
Just don’t get confused and think that it’s Mexico’s independence day. Gracias.