- Many in the US use it
Cinco de Mayoas an excuse to consume their favorite “Mexican” alcoholic beverage.
- But Mexicans don’t really celebrate the day – it’s not the Mexican version of July 4th.
- The “Mexican food” that Americans eat is barely authentic, and the sombreros are racist.
This year, millions of Americans will be emerging from their favorite Mexican bars and restaurants after consuming as many margaritas as possible in honor of Cinco de Mayo.
But aside from using the day as an excuse to consume their favorite “Mexican” alcoholic beverages, most people have no idea what they are celebrating. In fact, if they knew the real story of Cinco de Mayo – and how little Mexicans actually celebrate it – they might think twice before taking this shot.
Read on to find out how May 5th became synonymous with tacos and tequila, and why it’s just plain annoying in the US.
Cinco de Mayo isn’t a Mexican 4th of July – but many Americans don’t know that
In the United States, many people confuse Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence Day. The day actually commemorates a Mexican victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla.
Mexican independence happened 50 years earlier and is celebrated on September 16.
The fact that so many Americans don’t understand this fact makes vacationing in America all the more blatant.
Its history is not the happiest, which leaves the American celebrations untouched
The Battle of Puebla was instigated by France, who fought with Mexico over unpaid debts.
As early as 1861, the struggling Mexican government was forced to default on loan payments to France. As a result, France decided to invade the country and build a monarchy. On the way to Mexico City, the French troops were stopped by Mexican forces in the city of Puebla. And on May 5, 1862, the Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated the French armed forces, led by Napoleon III.
Although Mexico declared a victory in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, the French won the Franco-Mexican War and occupied the area for the next five years until the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian was overthrown as emperor.
Although the battle was viewed as a major victory for Mexico, it isn’t exactly an occasion that should be celebrated with tequila shots.
In fact, its story has a lot to do with the American Civil War, which makes our celebrations all the more deaf
Napoleon III Saw the Battle of Puebla as an opportunity to capture an important Mexican entry point into the United States.
Napoleon III Not only did they take over Mexico City, they wanted French troops to help the Confederate Army during the Civil War to keep the US divided and vulnerable.
Plus, Cinco de Mayo isn’t a big deal in Mexico
In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday, which means businesses, including banks and shops, are open.
Outside of the city of Puebla, the day is not widespread in the country, which makes this holiday more of an American holiday anyway.
What began as a day to celebrate cultural pride turned into a business opportunity
In the 1960s, Mexican activists saw the celebration of Cinco de Mayo as a way to honor their culture.
But things started to change in the 1970s and 1980s. Manufacturers – especially alcoholic beverage makers – saw an opportunity to take advantage of the vacation by marketing products to Latino customers, and it paid off in large measure.
Cinco de Mayo is big business for the hospitality and liquor industries. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, margaritas accounted for 27% of cocktail sales in 2011 and 2012. That sales almost doubled at Cinco de Mayo, accounting for 42% of sales on vacation.
It’s a sloppy vacation to the US
Along with some pretty offensive costumes and cartoons of Mexican culture (more on that in a minute), Cinco de Mayo is one of America’s top five drinking days of the year.
You will often see people acting stupid and drunk, all in the name of “celebrating Mexican culture”.
The sugary margaritas are sure to lead to a nasty hangover, and the Mexican food is likely not authentic
When celebrating Cinco de Mayo, you might find yourself having a couple of frozen margaritas. Not only are these frozen sugary drinks not really authentic, but if you try to monitor your calorie consumption, they can destroy your diet.
A single frozen margarita can contain 500 calories. The classic on-the-rocks version can contain 150 to 200 calories. If beer is your preference, know that most Mexican beers have around 150 calories each. And none ever only has one drink on Cinco de Mayo.
In addition, the so-called Mexican food that many in the United States consume at Cinco de Mayo is hardly authentic.
If your idea of ââhonoring Mexican culture on Cinco de Mayo is to have a cheese-coated chicken burrito, you will likely be quite upset to know that what you are eating is more American than Mexican.
Most of the Mexican restaurants where Americans gather to serve dishes that the people of Mexico would never dream of eating.
This sombrero and fake mustache are racist
The fact that most Americans don’t know what Cinco de Mayo is makes it easy for some people to say and do things that are culturally insensitive.
Who could forget President Donald Trump’s Facebook post on Cinco de Mayo 2016 declaring his love for Hispanics and the Trump Tower’s taco shells? Not to be outdone, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was devastated on Twitter in 2017 for an equally insensitive post saying he would celebrate Cinco de Mayo by drinking a whole glass of hot salsa, watching Speedy Gonzales cartoons and speaks Spanish all day. Not to mention, you are likely to see lots of people wearing sombreros, fake mustaches, and ponchos, which is plain and simple cultural appropriation.
If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year, leave the giant sombrero at home.