May 5, 2023 - Things to Do

How to Cinco de Mayo responsibly

Aracely Saucillo (L) and Marilyn Castillo perform with Mexican Ballet Folclorico during Cinco De Mayo festivities in downtown Los Angeles in 2011. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

You may notice signs sprinkled outside restaurants and bars advertising "Cinco de Drinko" specials today.

  • While there's nothing wrong with celebrating the holiday by appreciating Mexican culture, here are a few details you should know about its origins:

Context: Incorrectly dubbed "Mexican Independence Day," Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico's victory against French troops sent by Napoleon III in the 1862 Battle of Puebla.

  • Some historians believe France's loss stopped them from supplying weapons to the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War, per Insider.
  • By the 1980s, corporations and beer companies co-opted the day to reach the growing U.S. Hispanic market, Axios' Russ Contreras wrote.
  • Besides the town of Puebla, the holiday is not widely celebrated in Mexico.

The latest: 161 years later, the holiday has been widely commercialized in America and reduced to a day when eateries offer taco and tequila deals.

My thought bubble: Acknowledge the history behind the holiday. If you're going to celebrate, ditch the sombrero and fake mustache.

Further reading: The forgotten anti-slavery history of Cinco de Mayo


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