Cinco de Mayo — an American tradition

Go beyond Mexican food and music on this festive day in May.

Courtney Johnson

The Cinco de Mayo holiday is upon us once again. And my mind has immediately flashed to bright colored piñatas, festive music being played and the waving of the green, red and white colors of MexicoâÄôs flag. However, this holiday has much more to offer than just celebrating a special day in MexicoâÄôs history.

So why exactly is the fifth of May deemed worthy of partaking in spicy fiestas?

Commonly confused with MexicoâÄôs Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo honors the 1862 Battle of Puebla âÄî the battle when Mexican militia defeated the French. Interestingly, Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated to the same extent in Mexico as it is in the U.S. Instead, it is generally only celebrated in the state of Puebla, where the battle took place. Compare this to the lengths that it is celebrated within the U.S., and you will find a big difference in the number of celebrations.

A question that I asked myself as I uncovered this information is: Why do we as Americans celebrate this particular holiday more than a country that actually had its history changed after the event for which it celebrates?

For me, the answer is this simple: To celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the U.S. is to celebrate the âÄògreat melting potâÄô of diversity which is considered to be an asset to the U.S.âÄôs identity.

So, how can you celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year?

Well, other than the normal Thursday night specials at Burrito Loco in Dinkytown, taking a break from studying for finals May 6 and 7 to take part in one of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the Midwest is always a possibility.

Featured at the free-admission event in St. Paul âÄî complete with a salsa-tasting contest and live music âÄî people will be flocking from all parts of the Twin Cities just to enjoy each otherâÄôs company and to celebrate the web of many heritages and cultures that create an American identity.