MY ANNIVERSARY OF AN ANTI-IMPERIALIST VICTORY IS NOT YOUR GODDAMN BOOZE-UP OPPORTUNITYVox complains the Americans have culturally appropriated a meaningful Mexican celebrations and turned it into another holiday:

On Saturday, many Americans are celebrating a holiday they likely know almost nothing about.

I’m speaking, of course, of Cinco de Mayo, which is Spanish for May 5. Although the day is supposed to celebrate Mexican heritage, it has become Americanized — that is, hijacked into another excuse to party, eat, and drink, all while getting sweet discounts at some restaurants. (It is so Americanized, in fact, that it’s actually celebrated more in the US than in Mexico.)

What is the 5th of May about then?

In 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez declared that his country couldn’t afford to pay its debts. This, as one would expect, did not please the countries that had made loans to Mexico — and Britain, Spain, and France sent naval forces to Mexico to secure their debts.

Britain and Spain managed to negotiate the issue peacefully. But the French, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to invade, taking over the country and setting up a monarchy led by an Austrian archduke.

But before the French managed to take over the country for several years, Cinco de Mayo gave Mexicans a glimmer of hope: When the French approached the town of Puebla on May 5, 1862, their army lost to a badly outnumbered and out-armed group of Mexican soldiers.

The Mexican victory was short-lived, and France eventually advanced to the nation’s capital and took over. But the win still turned into a symbol of Mexican resistance, helping sustain an independence movement that would go on for the next few years.

Driven by the spirit of Cinco de Mayo and with American support, Mexicans eventually — in 1867 — toppled the French-installed government and put Juárez back in power.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in only one of Mexico’s 31 states (Puebla), and in the United States it’s been traditionally celebrated by Mexican migrants and Mexican-Americans. I’m pretty sure they have always celebrated as an occasion to “party, eat and drink”, so the current joyous revelry is not some gringo corruption of an otherwise lofty and poignant occasion like Remembrance Day. Ditto St Patrick’s Day, Columbus Day or Pulaski Day. Let it go, Vox, just let it go.

Comments

comments