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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
Dan April 30, 2010, 9:20 AM

Excellent article!

The reason Americans drink at every opportunity and to the “expense” of any holiday’s true meaning is that we Americans are, in large part, very irreverent.

We don’t have a deep and long history, and therefore can’t appreciate what some holidays REALLY mean.

Americans have a culture, but it’s a new culture, bred of independence and freedom. In a way, it’s not a “cultured culture.”

I personally dread May 5th because of the way Americans celebrate a relatively obscure regional Mexican holiday.



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