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Why I Hate Cinco de Mayo

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Christina Montoya Fielder: I just drove past one of our neighborhood bars. Plastered on their marquee was a notice for tonight's festivities: "Cinco de Drinko." Um, that's not even real Spanish, first of all. Second of all, why does celebrating the fifth of May mean getting wasted?

cinco de mayo

Therein lies my beef with the Cinco de Mayo holiday. 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 this year), ponchos Ã  la "Ugly Betty," tequila, mariachis or guacamole -- although corporate America would like you to believe that it is about those things. Given today's current events (ahem, Arizona), I won't even start on how so many people in this country could be ripe with anger over Mexican immigrants, yet still celebrate with the best of them this week.

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 that the Mexican army defeated French invaders at the Battle of Puebla. There are more than 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 there 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, I would rather that he 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 were 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 St. Patrick's chasing the snakes out of Ireland.)

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

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


next: 'Real Housewife' Alex McCord: Occasional Glass of Wine During Pregnancy No Biggie
127 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous May 5, 2010, 5:30 AM

like you said, you celebrated it when you were young, and so are other people. but you are right, people should know what they are celebrating instead of using it as an excuse to get drunk

chris May 5, 2010, 5:57 AM

I don’t think people care what the meaning is behind these days (cinco de mayo, st.patrick’s day etc) they are just a reason to go out and drink. I don’t celebrate any of these holidays even st. patty’s day and I’m 1/2 irish because I don’t drink but I know a lot of people who enjoy them. And yes, I think you are being too sensitive.

Barry May 5, 2010, 6:24 AM

Sounds like September 16th is an untapped resource!

Attention Corporate America: Repeat the festivities of Cinco de Mayo on 9/16 and double the profits!

Lobo May 5, 2010, 9:08 AM

Who hasn’t beaten the French?

Momma C May 5, 2010, 10:32 AM

I totally feel the same way about most holidays. Everything in this country has been corporatized into an unnatural meaning. I want my daughter to grow up knowing the true meanings of holidays and their importance to her culture or spiritual life. Hence we went to Mass on St. Patrick’s Day, didn’t have eggs involved for Easter, and will probably do nothing today unless we can find time to go protest at the capitol (we live in AZ). Glad someone else shares my distaste for what the US has done to this day.

Danny Livewire May 5, 2010, 1:06 PM

Actually….. There is a VERY good reason as to why it’s celebrated with alcohol. The day / concept was initially created by Coors Brewing Company….

Read: http://dancefloordestroyers.com/livewire/CincoDeMayo.pdf

Sure they won a battle against the French, but then they were conquered by Spain…. REAL Mexican Independence day is celebrated in September.

Cinco De Mayo, is a day to get drunk!

Anonymous May 5, 2010, 4:10 PM

Seriously? EVERY holiday is an excuse to drink: Wine on Valentine’s Day, green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, cold beer on the 4th of July, spiked egg nog for Christmas, and the anything-goes-as-long-as-it-gets-you-wasted on New Years.

Steve May 5, 2010, 7:34 PM

I’m a little confused here. You said, “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, I would rather that he not associate his heritage with a day that people take as an excuse to party.” What makes you so special that OF COURSE you got to have your good time when you were young, but now that YOUR life has changed, everyone should change with you. I’m sure that in your youth you were so very concerned about how your celebrating affected how some other woman’s child viewed the history and meaning of the holiday. Seems pretty convenient, if not a little selfish.

friend May 5, 2010, 10:44 PM

i say be smart AND party!!! it’s ignorant for people to not know what they are drinking to just because they needed an excuse to party but if you or your son can make another day so nationally celebrated for no particular reason, more power to you.

Monica  May 6, 2010, 5:36 AM

Thank you for posting. I agree. Just yesterday, I posted a comment on my facebook about why non-Mexicans feel the need to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (or should I say Sinko day Mayo - JK)- a day that the dont even understand the history of. I am tired of our Mexican culture being exploited by white corporate america. White America makes it quite clear that they hate Mexicans coming to the US, but still rapes our culture by taking qualities that they like and making it their own. For example, our food, dancing, etc. White america has no defined culture so they feel the need to take and pick..and steal from here and there.

Emma May 6, 2010, 12:01 PM

Dang Monica, tell us how you really feel.lol

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