Cinco de Mayo has become one of those holidays that many acknowledge but do not quite understand. The biggest misconception, of course, is that it is Mexico’s Independence Day.
Some take this day as an opportunity to learn about and appreciate Mexican culture. As a Chicano I appreciate the gesture, but I take offense when “appreciation” reduces Mexican culture to food and fiesta (i.e., fajitas, margaritas and Coronas).
As students, we should take the initiative to educate our- selves about why May 5 – and any other cultural holiday – is even recognized.
Cinco de Mayo should be observed as a day in 1862 when an army of indigenous soldiers under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza fought and protected their country from French imperialsm during la Batalla de Puebla. It has nothing to with Mexican Independence Day, which, by the way, is Sept. 16.
Cinco de Mayo is more widely recognized here in the US than in Mexico. For most Mexicans, Cinco de Mayo is just the same as cuatro de Mayo, just another day in May.
So then why are we celebrating it?
While I’m just as guilty as many of you – I ate corned beef and cabbage and drank green beer for St. Patrick’s Day – I’m designating all of us as the Tarados de mayo for using frivolous holidays as a reason to get drunk.