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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†√† 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.


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