Many Latin cultures around the globe DO NOT celebrate the American holiday. Like so many of our other American holidays- marketers thus big businesses are to blame for the hype that has minimized the significance of the original glory.
“Cinco de Mayo has been sort of appropriated,” he said. “It has been transformed by corporate America. It has become, really, a holiday that big business has used to enter the Latino consumer market. And so they’re making millions off this holiday without really honoring the tradition and the history behind the actual holiday.”
Originally, Cinco de Mayo was born of patriotic fervor of Mexican-Americans in the United States — who saw the victory over the French as a blow against the Confederacy.
The French supported the Confederates during the Civil War. The Mexican-American residents of California, Oregon and Nevada backed the Union. So did Mexico’s president, Benito Juarez.
To the Latinos in the United States, the French invasion of Mexico “was as if the Civil War had opened up a second front,” David Hayes-Bautista, author of the newly released “El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition,” told The Huffington Post.
Thus, the victory at Puebla became much more important north of the border — especially since the French went on to conquer Mexico.
“In Mexico it simply meant that the Mexican army had beaten the French army,” Hayes-Bautista said. “In California what it symbolized, really, was that for the first time, basically since the Confederate guns that fired on Fort Sumter, finally the army of freedom and democracy had won against the army of slavery and elitism.”
Celebrations of the event sprang up in Hispanic communities in the United States.
“That’s when they sort of grasped upon this David versus Goliath story that we celebrate,” Hayes-Bautista said, “because it shows that even though you’re outnumbered and you’re smaller, if your heart is pure and your cause is right you can triumph over evil.”
Many of those early celebrations faded away as the generations that lived through it died off. So did a broad understanding of the holiday’s original intent.
“It’s just like Labor Day,” said Rodolfo Acuña, a Mexican-American activist and professor of Chicano/a Studies at California State University Northridge. “Labor Day in September has no meaning. You may have a couple of parades out there by some unions. But other than that, you really have no significance to it. It’s like any holiday … unless it’s kept alive by people it’s not going to have any meaning.”
Members of the Chicano Movement resurrected interest in Cinco de Mayo in the 1960s and 1970s, as a celebration of cultural pride. In the 1980s, as cash-strapped local groups tried to put on events tied to the holiday, they needed sponsors. Enter the liquor companies.
“The alcohol industry saw it as a way of targeting Latinos, and now we see the results,” Claudia Baltazar, an alcohol prevention specialist with Cinco de Mayo Con Orgullo, told The Huffington Post. “Drinko de Mayo, that’s how I’ve seen it in some advertising, which is really sad.
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!