How Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo (hint: it’s not with sombreros and maracas)

It's funny. Last year I don't remember there being such hoopla in the States over Cinco de Mayo. Or maybe there was and I ignored it because it seemed normal. This year, multiple friends in the States have asked me about Cinco de Mayo celebrations here. My Twitter feed and Google Alerts have blown up with various Cinco de Mayo party tips and recipe ideas. It seems a little strange, because people in Mexico -- or at least, people in Mexico City -- don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo. No one has the day off. There are no two-for-one margarita happy hour specials. (Chilangos don't drink margaritas, unless they have American friends in town.) No one really throws any parties, and there aren't any parades in the streets. The latter is really saying something, because there are parades for just about any holiday here. Mexico City's largest newspaper, El Universal, doesn't even mention Cinco de Mayo on its website today. There is a big story on Paulina Rubio being pregnant. The truth is, Cinco de Mayo has become more important in the United States than it has in Mexico. Kind of cool, isn't it? It's the one day out of the year when we get to acknowledge that Mexico has influenced who we are as Americans, through food and drink and music. (For a little Cinco de Mayo food history, check this AOL News story, which traces the American roots of a few popular dishes.) The most important part of the holiday, to me, is the idea that Mexican influence and Mexican-American identity are positive things, and not anything we should ignore or view with suspicion. My senior year in college, my roommates and I threw a big Cinco de Mayo party and I remember being really happy about it, because at the time -- living in Boston -- I felt pretty culturally isolated. (Most Latinos in the city then were either Puerto Rican or Dominican.) I remember standing by the stove for much of the night, and not minding it at all, because I was warming tortillas and making quesadillas and who knows what else. People seemed very impressed that there was another way to warm tortillas besides in the microwave. And very few people had ever had homemade Mexican food before. We played mariachi music and I wore an embroidered Mexican blouse, which I promptly spilled red enchilada sauce on. It was a great night. For a detailed history on Cinco de Mayo and how it's celebrated in the United States, I highly recommend Wikipedia. Feliz Cinco de Mayo to you!
58 Responses to “How Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo (hint: it’s not with sombreros and maracas)”
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