In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate Mexican food and traditions with festivals and parades. However, in Mexico, it is not celebrated to the extent that it is in America. Its only major celebrations in Mexico are in the city of Puebla, because that is the location of where the Mexicans defeated the French on May 5, 1862, while the rest of Mexico considers Cinco de Mayo as a normal day.
Although it may be often assumed, Cinco de Mayo does not celebrate Mexican independence, which occurred on September 16, 1810. The first celebration of Cinco de Mayo was actually in 1863 as a show of solidarity with Mexico against the French rule. Since then, celebrations continued on a yearly basis, and in the 1930s it was regarded as a day to celebrate Mexican identity and tradition in America. As the holiday’s popularity grew, it also became a way to build Mexican-American pride. Then, beginning in the 1980s, the commercial element to the holiday grew dramatically as businesses began promoting Mexican services and goods, particularly food, drinks and music.
In the United States, this day is celebrated through parties, festivals, and parades. The colors of the Mexican flag (red, white, and green) often appear in costumes and party decorations. Mariachi bands or other Mexican folk music is also played at these celebrations and there is often traditional Mexican dancing. An additional tradition that may take place is a feast of Mexican food which include tacos, enchiladas, and salsa and tortilla chips.
In New York City, there is a parade at Central Park West, with mariachi music, folklorico dancers, and colorful floats. In Los Angeles, there is a multi-day festival known as Fiesta Broadway. In Washington D.C, there is a National Cinco de Mayo Festival each year with a performance from Maru Montero Dance Company. This celebration actually extends beyond Mexican culture and embraces the heritage of all Latin America.
Here at RHS, Cinco de Mayo is also celebrated, especially in Spanish classes. Students may bring in snacks that correlate with Mexican tradition, listen to Mexican music, or learn about the origin of Cinco de Mayo. Grace McLaughlin recalls that her spanish class “ate guac, salsa, and chips and watched American Family which is a tv show about an Mexican-American family.” Additionally, Annie Probert recollects that, through worksheets and videos, her class learned the meaning behind Cinco de Mayo, which she did not know until learning it in class.
Graphics: Taylor Donovan