Our thoughts on Cinco de Mayo’s history, legacy, and experiences in America today.
For years, group chat discussions about where to grab margaritas or what to wear for Cinco de Mayo have inevitably welcomed little facts like, “You know, Cinco de Mayo isn’t really Mexico’s Independence Day,” or “I heard Mexicans don’t even celebrate Sinko de Mayo!” And the increasingly common, “No, mom, you didn’t invent ‘Drinko de Mayo.’” We all know what Cinco de Mayo isn’t, andI’ll be honest, defining Cinco de Mayo is elusive. To put it simply, it is a day that means a lot of things to a lot of people.For that reason,we would like to show our respect and kick off Cinco de Mayo a little early this year by talking about its history and what it all means for us today.
For the Mexican soldiers and civilians in Puebla on Cinco de Mayo, 1862, it is the day one of the most feared imperial forces in the world, the French Empire, was bested at the hands of Mexico’s fighters. The Battle of Puebla sent out a ripple of patriotism and resistance to Mexicans throughout North America, and birthed what would over time become the holiday as we know it. But on Cinco de Mayo in this century, most tears of joy are shed not because of the famous battle but more likely because I’m on my third skinny margarita and this is genuinely the best taco de camarones I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.
For Chicano activists in the mid-twentieth century, Cinco de Mayo was adopted in the spirit of revival. The Battle of Puebla served as a solidifying moment in shared cultural history to base their activism, and of course to take a day for celebration. Partly thanks to this activism and partly due to the ever-growing number of Americans, especially young Americans, who feel a belonging to Mexican American culture, the holiday began to evolve into more generalized expressions of Mexican American spirit. But ultimately no, a packed bar filled with Americans of all backgrounds shouting the lyrics to “Margaritaville” isn’t likely what these early adopters of Cinco de Mayo imagined, but we must remember that without this greatest of days Jimmy Buffett would be nothing more than a poor lost traveler with nowhere to hang his flip flops.
This brief history is to point out that there are many reasons for fiesta on Cinco de Mayo, a powerful and dignified history of people fighting for their heritage. And the why throughout the years is connected intimately to the how. The growing population of LatinAmericans has fueled the flame of patriotism, a flame that has spread across the United States regardless of heritage. We all love getting together for great food, music, drinks, and need the right outfit for the occasion. And it’s been more or less the same since the first Cinco de Mayo. Commerce has been walking hand in hand with the holiday every step of the way, providing the how to each individual’s why. Every year as millions of Americans fill their favorite restaurants and cantinas for tear-jerking tacos and margaritas, LatinAmerican owned businesses thrive. In this industry, and especially on this day, we grow as a nation. Conversations of the past and togetherness have a venue to take place over some of the best food and drinks on planet earth, and that is why 5demayotshirts.com is here. We are so excited to play a role in bringing Cinco de Mayo events everywhere to the next level. Happy Cinco de Mayo!