Cinco de Mayo – Not Your Holiday
Today is May the fourth, National Star Wars Day. I would like to extend the traditional National Star Wars Day greeting to everyone reading this: May the Fourth be with you!
Sadly, though, National Star Wars Day is not the biggest holiday people ’round these parts celebrate. The day after National Star Wars Day is May 5th. May 5th, better known to our Spanish speaking friends as Cinco de Mayo.
Maybe you’re reading this in Canada. Maybe you’re reading this somewhere up north of the Mason-Dixon Line, or maybe you’re reading this a little closer to me, in the Dirty Dirty. But you are undoubtedly preparing for Cinco de Mayo.
But before you get too excited, before you get too into it, please remember one thing:
Cinco de Mayo is not your holiday.
Sure, it’s a fun day to feel “authentic” and order “cerveza” at your “favorite” Mexican restaurant. Yeah, it’s a great way to get together with friends and celebrate and have a great time. It may even be appropriate to wear a sombrero and be slightly racist (by the way – it’s not). But don’t act like it’s your holiday.
If there’s one thing Americans love, it’s taking credit for things that aren’t ours and for caring about things we really don’t care about. St. Patrick’s Day, pizza, Invisible Children, TOMs shoes, and sushi are just a few examples. And I mean, really, what American doesn’t beam with pride on May 5th because they are celebrating the day that their proud country started a war against Spain that resulted in their independence?
If you, by chance, are one of those people stockpiling Corona, making salsa, and practicing your Spanish so you can order “in Mexican” when you eat at El Sombrero or Margarita’s or any other generic sounding Mexican restaurant, then you’re beaming with pride right now. You’re thinking, “why, yes, yes I am celebrating that very event.” You’re thinking “yes, I can celebrate Mexican Independence Day with my Mexican brothers (heyyyy hermano!) and be proud of it!”
If that’s what you’re thinking, then I appreciate your sensitivity to other countries, but I mercilessly mock your awful sense of timing. See, if you’re gearing up for Mexican Independence Day, you’re either several months late or several months early. Mexico’s Independence Day is actually called, I believe, Grito de Dolores (the cry of Dolores), and is celebrated September 16th. It happened in 1810. Cinco de Mayo, on the other hand, happened over 50 years later and celebrates Mexico’s victory in a battle against the…French? Seriously?
Now look – I don’t want to say the people of Mexico shouldn’t celebrate. They should. Mexico beating France in a war is like…I don’t know…Stanford beating USC in football a few years ago (remember this?). Just as Stanford upset USC in the biggest upset maybe ever, Mexico very shockingly defeated France in the Battle of Puebla. And while I’m sure fans of, say, LSU looked at Stanford/USC and thought “hmm. That’s neat”, you don’t see them throwing a commemorative bash every year for that game. (Yes, every analogy breaks down somewhere). For those of you who don’t follow sports, we are pretty much the the Super Bowl champion New York football Giants. Yes, they are in the NFL, and yes, I’m saying America is THAT much better than France.
So, I guess what I’m saying is go out and get a drink on Cinco de Mayo. Maybe even go eat some Mexican food. But do it because it’s May 5th, not some holiday that you pretend like you care about.
That said, Happy Cinco de Mayo!