Cinco de Mayo Essay
Last year I was lucky enough to spend the well known holiday Cinco de Mayo with my Mexican friends, who explained me many interesting details about this day. Even though I enjoyed Mexican food and had a lot of fun every year on this day, the information about its historical background made my pleasure more deliberate.
First of all, it is necessary to mention that Cinco de Mayo is not an celebrated in Mexico so actively as it is in the United States. On the home country of the fest the day of Independence is thought to be more important than the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. So, it is possible to say that Cinco de Mayo is one of the ways that helps the Chicano immigrants in the United States preserve their connection with the country they come from and as the result their national identity. In addition, it makes the Latino culture more popular among the rest of the Americans.
The 5th of May is the day when Mexican volunteer soldiers, who had no formal military training, defeated the French army and the Mexican Convervatives back in 1862 in the town of Pueblo (Henderson, p. 34). This victory showed the desire of common Mexican people to protect their land with all their strength and courage. Cinco de Mayo is the day when the Mexicans commemorate their history, patriotism and national unity (Bautista, p.56-57).
The traditional way to celebrate this day is dancing, cooking and eating traditional Mexican meals, watching and participating in the parades. The streets are full of Mariachi music bands. People enjoy drinking Corona and Dos Equis beers. In fact, it does not have evident connections nowadays with the events that happened more than a century ago (Gonzales, p. 162). The celebration of Cinco de Mayo can be described as the way to show the Mexican life style, their way of living. It is sometimes referred to as the Mexican analogue of St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps, the clothes are the only thing that reminds the participants of the festival that Cinco de Mayo has a historical background. People who sell the traditional Mexican tartilla chips, salsa, enchiladas and tacos are dressed in patriotic clothes, have the traditional Mexican accessories. Those, who participate in the parades, are dressed up like French and Mexican soldiers (Malmstrom, p. 24-25). The celebration of Cinco de Mayo can be described as absolutely original cultural practice, because it features a strong ethnic component. As it is seen from all traditions mentioned above, it is an essence of everything that is considered to be Mexican. The fest is not initially organized to earn money. Of course people who sell traditional Mexican food or accessories receive certain profit from it, but the majority of people come there to enjoy themselves.
It is interesting that the biggest part of those who have fun on Cinco de Mayo do not even know what is this celebration about. The historical background, the symbolic meaning of the victory of the Mexican soldiers over the colonizers are not the facts that are evident for everyone. Perhaps, when people started to organize grand celebrations on this day they knew the initial meaning of the hidden symbolism, but today the message is not understood. The fest changed its meaning from being the celebration of the victory of courageous men to being the festival of national identity. Though, despite the fact that not so many people understand the history that hides behind the loud celebration of Cinco de Mayo, all of them absolutely enjoy the parades, the traditional Mexican music and food.
Bautista, David. Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 2012. Print.
Henderson, Timothy J. The Mexican Wars for Independence. New York: Hill and Wang. Hayes, 2009. Print.
Gonzales, Juan. Harvests of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 2000. Print.
Malmstrom, Vincent H. Land of the Fifth Sun: Mexico in Space and Time. Hanover, New Hampshire, 2002. Print.