When most Americans think of Cinco de Mayo, the majority envision plastic-beaded jewelry, scantily-clad women, and an extreme excess of alcohol. Music, laughing, and talking fill the air and the scene is set in chaotic and colorful disarray. But this image, while vibrant and full of life, is not how Cinco de Mayo is supposed to be celebrated.
For those who aren’t already aware, Cinco de Mayo, is not the Mexican Independence Day (which is Sept. 16). Cinco day Mayo is the day the Mexican people remember when General Ignacio Zaragoza led the Mexican Army into a victory against the French armies in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 of 1862.
“The war with France actually has a lot of significance to American history; the Civil War was going on simultaneously. France would have sided with the confederates in the Civil War, and had they not been sidetracked by the war in Mexico, the Civil War could very easily have had a very different outcome,” said Javier Cervantes, Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at LBCC
In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not widely celebrated. All children have the day off of school, but the day is only a national holiday in the state of Puebla, where the battle was won. The festivities are most prevalent and widespread in Puebla. The neighboring state of Veracruz also has a full holiday on May 5, and there are various military-themed parades across Mexico, but the festivities are nowhere near as ostentatious, raucous, and flamboyant as those in most of the United States.
“I feel like Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that is just used in America as an excuse to drink, like Saint Patrick’s day is. It would be like another country using the alamo or our independence day as another drinking day,” said Moriah Hoskins, an LBCC student of Hispanic descent.
If you would like to celebrate in a way that is culturally accurate or learn more, visit LBCC’s Diversity Day on Wednesday, May 10; which will be in the courtyard from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature performers, music, food, club and community tables, and more.
“Cinco de Mayo celebrations are a signature event at Diversity Day, it’s one of the most fun days of the year,” said Cervantes.
Column by Katelyn Boring