Cinco de Mayo, Latino Family Traditions

Why Cinco de Mayo is more than Coronas

Ad "Corona De Mayo," creative commons.
Ad “Corona De Mayo,” creative commons.


This year my daughter asked me, twice in two days, if we’re celebrating “Cinco de Mayo.” I’m a little perplexed, as she is not very ‘up’ on the Mexicanada or Chicano culture-her one college class in Chicano Studies does count for a few points, though.

So I ask, Why, mija, is there somewhere you want to go, or to do, to celebrate? 
“Yeah, let’s go to El Rey’s and have some tacos and beer! 
Que-que? (She’s twenty-two so beer is on the brain). Mija, Cinco de Mayo is so much more than beer, tacos, and big sombreros. Maybe it’s the 1/4 Anglo in her that prompted the tacos and beer celebration or I could blame her youthfulness.

Do you know the significance of Cinco de Mayo? I ask.
“Uh, Mexican Independence Day?” She must have missed the section on the historic battle between the French and Mexican military forces in her Chicano Studies class.
Uh, no, it celebrates the Battle of Puebla, I say and proceed to give the following description:

The Battle of Puebla was important for two reasons. First, 4000 Mexicans defeated a much better-equipped French army of 8,000 men. Second, it was a successful resistance effort.The French defeat denied Napolean III the opportunity to resupply the Confederate rebels for another year during the Civil War allowing the Union to build up their forces.

“Uh….” she starts to say, but I’m on a roll….

…Cinco de Mayo  is an opportunity to celebrate our culture and our experiences as Americans of Mexican descent. This isn’t celebrated in much of Mexico, except in the city of Puebla; it’s more of a US thing. We come from a people who fought for justice, although outnumbered and inexperienced, like a modern day David and Goliath.It’s the classic underdog story.  t

After another few minutes, I end with “and that’s why it’s important, it’s a symbol of pride and hope. And those food and beverage companies have commercialized this day into Cinco Coronas day and Viva Bud day so I’m not about to contribute to their alcohol sales. I’m about to spew forth some more until I see the slight roll of her eyes upward. 

“A simple no was all you had to say, mom, just  a simple no”.  

Que Viva Cinco de Mayo!

4 thoughts on “Why Cinco de Mayo is more than Coronas”

  1. I think it's an okay thing that people want to use it as a party day but like you I think people should know exactly why it's being celebrated. I'm not Irish but I know St. Patrick's significance. My husband's a history buff so him and I just finished a conversation on the civil war. I'm reading Gone With The Wind and I read the part yesterday where Rhett Butler tells Scarlett that the French are in no way going to come to the Confederates aid because of the battle going on in Mexico. So cool that you wrote about it.


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