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Why I Hate Cinco de Mayo

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Christina Montoya Fiedler: I just drove past one of our neighborhood bars. Plastered on their marquee was a notice for tonight's festivities: "Cinco de Drinko." Therein lies my beef with the Cinco de Mayo holiday.

girl in sombrero drinking margarita

Why does it have to be about drinking, and does anyone even know what the holiday is really all about? First let me tell you what it is NOT about: sombreros, fake mustaches (which I actually saw someone wearing one year), tequila, mariachis, and guacamole -- although corporate America would like you to believe that it is. Some might say I'm taking the fun out of one of our most beloved holidays, but really, I'm just a realist who's sick of the stereotypes associated with a day that most Mexicans don't even care about.

Cinco de Mayo marks the day the Mexican army defeated French invaders at the Battle of Puebla. There are over 28 million Mexican Americans living in the United States today, but back in Mexico, people are not as keen on Cinco de Mayo. In fact, it is not as widely celebrated as it is here in the States. Mexicans put more emphasis on September 16th, Mexican Independence Day.

In my younger days, of course, I used to partake in a good combination plate and a few margaritas on the fifth of May, but now that I have my son Joe, I would rather him not associate his heritage with a day that people take as an excuse to party. Sure, he can live it up with his friends someday, but I would be so proud if he was the one to tell everyone why and what they were celebrating.

I'm sure the same can be said for St. Patrick's Day, the Fourth of July, or any other holiday celebrating some sort of nationalism. In fact, as I sipped a Guinness on St. Patty's Day one year, I felt unable to enjoy it because I had no idea what I was celebrating in the first place. In case you're wondering, St. Patrick's Day commemorates the chasing of the snakes out of Ireland by St. Patrick -- a truly miraculous event.

Am I being too sensitive? Maybe. But does Cinco de Mayo perpetuate stereotypes of a culture that's already under a lot of fire (swine flu, immigration)? Absolutely.

People will always find an excuse to overindulge. But if you're going to do it today, at least you're now informed.

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21 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous May 5, 2009, 3:56 PM

Will you at least have rice and beans with your dinner? I’m glad that you will teach Joe the true meanings of our holidays. I’ll make sure to bring the pinatas!

Anonymous May 5, 2009, 4:58 PM

I am Mexican American and I will be having Margaritas and quesadillas… but hey thats just me :) Oh yeah my husband… and all of our friends! Happy Cinco de Mayo Folks!

Anonymous May 5, 2009, 5:00 PM

oh lord lighten up.

Ms. Latina May 5, 2009, 5:10 PM

I agree! Very well written post.

Christina Moctezuma May 5, 2009, 5:18 PM

Well written. I feel exactly the same way. I guarantee that whoever wrote “lighten up” is NOT Mexican.

Keep on truckin’ mama.

scarso May 5, 2009, 5:20 PM

You are a party pooper!

Monica May 5, 2009, 5:25 PM

Get over yourself! Lighten up.

Melissa May 5, 2009, 5:34 PM

I totally agree. I’ve had the same issue with St. Patrick’s Day for many years. People always ask me “Where’s your green?” “Why won’t you come out for St. Patrick’s Day?” and I explain that it’s because I’m not Irish.

Not Latina May 5, 2009, 5:56 PM

Well.. I am not Hispanic… I’m not celebrating (as if any adult that wanted to have a nosh and a libation needed an excuse)… but then again I don’t do St. Patrick’s Day or any of the other “bar” holidays.

Jill (the other one) May 5, 2009, 6:17 PM

I’m with you, Christina. Why do so many holidays have to turn into an excuse to drink? No one knows what any holiday is really for other than alcohol.
You know what, grown-ups? You want to get drunk, go out and get drunk. But don’t do it under the guise of “celebrating” something you don’t know anything about.

Fifi LeSnu May 5, 2009, 6:21 PM

Americans love their excuses to drink. I find it interesting that Super Bowl Sunday has the highest domestic violence reported all year. So why do we need to take advantage of a so-so Mexican holiday to get drunk again? I don’t see every white kid at the bars for Kwanzaa or Canada Day.

And as for the “get over yourself” comment. Ditto to you.

Ana Lilian May 5, 2009, 6:59 PM

I actually wrote about this same issue in my site today

I also detest the fact that it´s become yet another drinking holiday, but I also figure I need to make the most of what I can to immerse my daughter a little in her father´s culture.

There are many beautiful cultural events that are done with pride and respect for the Mexican culture. I choose to align myself with those and teach my daughter the true meaning of the celebrations that unite her heritage.
It´s really just a matter of how you choose to interpret it and pass on the traditions.
I even had luck turning my Chilango (native from Mexico City) husband around to see the beauty behind “Drinko de Mayo”.

Western Lady May 5, 2009, 7:07 PM

I think the same can be said for Christmas and Easter. There are those who celebrate the true meaning of those holidays, just as there are those who know and celebrate (maybe not to the extent of chips and salsa and margaritas) the true meaning of Cinco De Mayo. People who aren’t Mexican celebrate Cinco De Mayo because it’s a good reason to party with friends and family and get drunk and people who aren’t Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter because presents, trees, food, and dying eggs and chocolate.

It’s part of the passive, nonchalant, culture that exists in America.

And as much as it annoys me when Bhuddists, Scientologists, or Muslims or anyone who is not a Christian celebrates Christmas or Easter, at the end of the day….it’s not personally hurting me so really, who cares! Let it go.

Western Lady May 5, 2009, 7:10 PM


I think it’s wonderful that there are parents out there teaching their children the true meanings behind any holiday. Every parent should do that!

Tom May 5, 2009, 7:28 PM

I think the confusion is that Cinco de Mayo has -always- been a US holiday, not a Mexican holiday. It is a US celebration of Mexico. The battle against the French actually was a big step in reducing their influence in the Americas and crucial to the outcome of the US civil war because it hurt France’s ability to supply arms to the Confederates.

My Grandfather celebrated Cinco de Mayo in California in the 1920s, and enjoyed the Margaritas!

red mum May 5, 2009, 7:54 PM

I dont mean to split hairs but I was reading this thinking that the same could be said in parts about St Patrick’s Day, then you said that. But then you committed the cardinal sin - its not St Patty’s Day - at all, that drives me nuts, I don’t understand Americans and their Patty’s. Its St Paddy’s Day, and we don’t celebrate St Patrick chasing snakes from Ireland, we celebrate St Patrick himself as patron saint of Ireland. I just needed to clarify that :) All calm now :)

ame i. May 5, 2009, 10:19 PM

Although Irish, I don’t drink green beer and act a fool in a parade on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m Scot, & not really sure what we should be doing on a particular day, but I won’t indulge in a meal of what-tha-heck-ever encased in a sheep’s bladder for any reason on any day & I don’t like the taste of scotch whiskey.
I’m not sure why people want to drink nasty egg-nog at Christmas. Ew.

Anonymous May 7, 2009, 12:42 PM

…not to mention, drunk drivers….

I live here in LA, and on May 5th, at around 1am, there was a major multi-car crash on the 170 highway- 12 people were severly injured….

This is all the fruits of people drunk driving after having too many margaritas for this so called ‘holiday.’

Anonymous May 8, 2009, 11:08 PM

All the “holiday” that require or celebrate mass quantities of alcoholic consumption really need.a reality check.I live in L.A. And on these holidays I make sure I’m in doors. I’ve seen the after math an it’s no a “lighten up issue. Lives are lost and altered.

Malice June 22, 2009, 1:48 PM

I’m Mexican and seriously you need to lighten up. We have so much culture in our race and why not live up to the stereotypes for this day! It’s stupid I know but come on! Mexicans are fun and full of live. Sure here in America we celebrate Cinco de Mayo and never our Independence Day, times are changing and we need to educate our children. Be proud of who you are and celebrate what makes us awesome!

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