Cinco de Mayo: Another Artificial Holiday for American Alcoholics
As if the most traditional American holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July – weren’t reasons enough to abuse alcohol, we as a collective nation of idle alcoholics have taken it upon ourselves to not only steal St. Paddy’s Day from the Irish, but also Cinco de Mayo from Mexico. And if you think I’m wrong, ask the southwestern part of the U.S. that started this Mexican-based tradition. Yes, the same folks who will be arbitrarily pounding margaritas on May 5th are many of the same who are imposing immigration laws against Mexicans in America.
According to many historians, Cinco de Mayo isn’t even a national Mexican holiday (except in the state of Puebla where the Battle of Cinco de Mayo took place), but instead the day is more of an American-made holiday created by Hispanics of the western U.S. during the Civil War. To history educators, it’s the Mexican celebration of the military victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla, a victory allowing Mexicans to keep their land from the invading French on May 5, 1862. But to regular everyday Americans like you and me, it’s just another commercialized holiday with Tecate instead of Budweiser, doobies instead of chewing tobacco and fake moustaches because we didn’t take the time to grow a real one. It’s as American as the sombrero.
What started on the west coast of the U.S. quickly took over in larger cities before spreading throughout America, and even Canada. Just as deceitful in its conception as the clever marketing campaign by DeBeers conning people into believing that a diamond is the equivalent of love, so is Cinco de Mayo a clever stunt by beverage companies that started in the 1950’s and 1960’s because of The Good Neighbor policy, an effort to build a better relationship between Mexico and America. However, once Anheuser-Busch and Miller got involved, that’s when it really started taking off, turning a small-time holiday into “that one day we all enjoy Corona.” By the late 20th Century, Cinco de Mayo had taken off as one of the biggest American consumption days of the year. Today, American beer companies spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars each year in Spanish-language advertising. Why do you think Corona, despite being one of the worst tasting Mexican beers, is in the top five selling beers in America, ahead of quality beers like Bohemia and Modelo?
Instead of drinking like a classy gentleman, people seem to need an excuse to get sloppy drunk and wear funny hats, an American tradition in and of itself. Following the douche epidemic of St. Patrick’s Day with green plastic hats and shiny pots of gold, Cinco de Mayo is trailing closely behind in its footsteps of imagined traditions. We can partly blame American corporations for this, who like to make a buck off convincing people we’re celebrating something, but instead, we’re getting drunk and forgetting what that is, though most people are convinced it has something to do with wet t-shirt contests. The corporations are aware of this.
Although America has little to do with Mexico’s freedom, pride or democracy, we still tote our cheap sombreros and wear colorful plastic bags as ponchos with Americanized cervezas, all while refusing to shave our dirt lips just so we can play mariachi music and smoke the mota – Spanish for “grass” – like the very Mexicans we stereotype. If you ask anybody what Cinco de Mayo is in celebration of, you’re more than likely going to get answers ranging from “Uhhhh?” to the best possible response, “Gettin’ totes fucked up, amigo.”
If we celebrate Mexican heritage that not even Mexico celebrates all too much, then what is Cinco de Mayo other than another Americanized fabrication and commercialization of history designed in the name of better tourism and devoted alcoholism? Although there is a small tie of America to the so-called holiday because of its influential motivation on the Union during the American Civil War that kept France from directly invading the U.S., how many people out of the thousands who celebrate actually know that?
But like every insightful inquisition into the norms of ignorant American traditions and brilliant marketing schemes, there is a solution offered in the end. Cinco de Mayo is neither a celebration of our independence nor theirs – theirs is September 16 – but if we Americans want to ignorantly celebrate for holidays we don’t understand, wouldn’t it be more sensible to first education ourselves as to what they’re celebrating before grabbing handfuls of dirty, unwashed limes and consuming the most non-Mexican versions (Corona) of Mexican beer while cheersing to…uhh, Mexico, right?
If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, be my guest, but you best not treat it like another Fourth of July, and you better damn well throw an authentic parade, whip up some quality guacamole and dance all day after a lengthy bullfight like a real patriotica Mexicana. Otherwise, set down the maracas and go back to your Budweiser and chewing tobacco and call it another Monday.