It seems like for the last couple of years on May 5th I've posted some snarky remark on Facebook "educating" the American community about Cinco de Mayo. I really don't know why I feel so compelled to do so, other than the fact that I am plain ol' embarrassed by the whole affair.
You see, us Mexicans love to party. Just last week (April 30th) all schools across the country suspended regular activities in order to party. What was the great occasion, you may ask? Children's Day. That's right, Children's Day! The fact that I have to look up on Wikipedia what Cinco de Mayo celebrates should in itself drive my point home -- it's not that big of a deal.
Yes, yes, some parts of Mexico do make a big deal over it. Yes, yes, some cities even have a big parade and dress-up and what-not. Yes, yes, we did win a battle, against the French, over something I'm not entirely sure about. And I'm thankful for those who sacrificed their lives for it.
But it is not a holiday equally celebrated throughout the country. In my 18 years of life growing up in Mexico, I never once remember celebrating it, commemorating it, or missing school because of it.
But here is a list of some of the holidays I do remember celebrating, commemorating, and/or missing school because of:
- Constitution Day (February 5th)
- Flag Day (February 24th)
- Carnival (February-ish)
- Benito Juarez's birthday (March 16th)
- Labor day (May 1st)
- Independance Day (September 16th)
- Day of the Dead (November 1st and 2nd)
- Revolution Day (November 20th)
- Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (December 12th)
But don't get me wrong. I think Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a Hispanic Heritage Day, which is very much OK. I just wish it was called that instead of Cinco de Mayo. I believe that over the years Cinco de Mayo has become more of an American holiday, rather than a Mexican holiday.
But I feel like I owe the gringo community a social service here by educating them -- Cinco de Mayo is not Independence Day, so don't congratulate a Mexican because of it (or worse yet, a non-Mexican Latin American). If you still feel like enjoying the day with an extra large margarita, then by all means. Thanks for giving the Mexican restaurants in town some business.
Needless to say -- !VIVA MEXICO!