On May 5, many Americans put on sombreros, take shots of tequila and eat hard-shell tacos. For Amber Cruz, whose parents are both Mexican, Cinco de Mayo is more than a mysterious holiday. Cinco de Mayo is the day on which the Mexican army unexpectedly defeated the French army during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Although her family doesn’t celebrate the holiday religiously, she recognizes its symbolism. To her and other Poblanos (residents from the state of Puebla, Mexico) this day symbolizes the greatness that can be accomplished with faith. To Brian Fabian, whose dad is from Oaxaca, Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has no meaning. “I have no feelings toward the holiday since we never celebrated it,” he said.
Random people were surveyed on the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo through an anonymous Twitter poll. Out of the 52 people who voted, 44 percent thought it was the Mexican Independence Day. “To be honest, I don’t know” and “Party day” were tied, each taking 19 percent of the votes. The right answer, “battle against the French,” received the lowest percentage, 18. Cruz encourages people to use their resources and avoid embarrassing themselves online. “All it takes is 10 seconds of your life to educate yourself about the day,” she said.
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, contrary to popular belief, September 16 is. Its meaning faded somewhere along with The Battle of Puebla celebrations in California. Early Mexican immigrants celebrated the triumph in large parades. As more Mexicans who didn’t celebrate the holiday came to the United States, the parades lost their symbolism.
Cruz is expecting to see negative comments about the holiday on social media due to this year’s election. The college students chanting “build the wall” while on spring break in Mexico only make her distress plausible. She asks that those who want to celebrate her culture learn the real reasons for their celebrations and holidays. Take “Cinco de Drinko” out of your vocabulary for the day, wave goodbye to the Ortega hard-shell tortillas and say “hello” to an authentic Mexican restaurant.