On March 17th, everybody is a little bit Irish when we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. A few weeks later we celebrate Cinco de Mayo in which everybody is a little bit Mexican. Cinco de Mayo may not be marketed as much as Hallmark markets St. Paddy’s Day, but it’s just as fun of a day to celebrate another nation’s culture.
It’s only gained popularity outside of Mexico in the past few decades. It had been popular in Southern California longer. I know this, because having moved to Los Angeles form Boston in mid 1990s, I had never heard of it. And yes, I asked the dumb question: “When is Cinco de Mayo?” (Just in case you are unsure, it’s the 5th of May. Now… when’s 4th of July?) But now it’s a day that I look forward to every year.
And I also made the mistake early on thinking it was Mexico’s Independence Day. Nope. It commemorates the day that the Mexican Army beat the French at the Battle of Puebla way back in 1862, when the French invaded Mexico for not paying owed interest post Mexico’s Reform War. Yeah, I had to look it up. Don’t worry, there won’t be a test. The point is, it celebrates a moment in Mexican history when it looked like they were outmatched, but ended up being victorious.
As I said above, Cinco de Mayo has become, in the US and other countries, a day to celebrate Mexican culture. There are celebrations, parades and various festivities with Mexican flare. But at the end of those (and probably at the beginning and some point in the middle) it all comes down to food! Which is just the foreplay to the main event… tequila!
OK, hold up. Mexico had contributed more to the world than just tacos and tequila (but hey, after those, who needs anything else?). And I’m not just talking about the masked Mexican Wrestlers. Mexico produced some of the greatest literary minds, like Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz. And some great filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro Gómez and Alfonso Cuarón. But probably the best known Mexican artist is Frida Kahlo.
Frida Kahlo is most famous for her self-portraits. They are vibrant images of Mexican folk culture.
Another big Mexican celebration is the Day of the Dead, though that is a blog for another time. Mexican skull art is another iconic image of their culture. Artists create amazingly detailed images on what some may consider a morbid background.
No Cinco de Mayo would be complete without a tasty Mexican meal. I’m not talking about Taco Bell, but lunch or dinner at an authentic Mexican restaurant. But make reservations or expect to wait in line. In a pinch, a taco truck will do. Just get your taco or burrito or enchilada on!
Make sure they don’t skimp on the guacamole.
The it’s time for tequila shots and margaritas! Which do you prefer? Blended or on the rocks? Salt or no salt? Fruit flavored or classic? Whatever you choose, you may want to plan to be hungover on Sies de Mayo.
For dessert, you can have some flan or fried ice cream or maybe… beat open a pinata! Get your aggression out and some candy!
So be proud! And fiesta like there’s no manana, but not without a sweet Cinco de Mayo t-shirt!