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Cinco de Mayo: Fiesta Buena o Mala?

cinco de mayo, do mexicans celebrate cinco de mayo, bicultural holidays

Ballet Folklorico Sol Azteca of Allendale, Michigan

Ok, not the best videos, but they get the point across.  Check out the list of posts below for more in-depth discussions on Cinco de Mayo.

How Gringos Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

 

Is this the Cinco de Mayo celebration that you’ve experienced? Unfortunately, it’s this commercialized version of the holiday that makes many cringe. Cinco de mayo has a bad reputation among many Latinos, and for good reason. For one, the misconceptions about the holiday are often offensive and show a lack of overall concern about Latinos and their holidays. They portray an “I don’t care about your history, just pass me a drink” kind of attitude. But, there’s more to the story.

Not sure what cinco de mayo is all about? Read more:
Daily Grito “The Power of Cinco de Mayo”
NewsTaco “The American Connection to Cinco de Mayo”
NewsTaco “Happy Cuatro de Mayo”
OneStopPoetry “Cinco de Mayo: The Miseducation”
SpanglishBaby “¡Viva Cinco de Mayo!”

What is Cinco de Mayo Really About?

 

Now, for me personally, I happen to love Cinco de Mayo and it’s not because of the tasty margaritas or delicious food. I love Cinco de Mayo because it brings people together and provides Mexican Americans with the opportunity to celebrate their heritage. For those in the Midwest and other outlying areas, it’s paramount. Los gringuitos and Latinos can use it as an opportunity to build a cultural bridge that encourages diverse discussions and lots of good learning.

On the part of gringos, it’s important to take an interest in the actual culture and not just it’s entertainment value. It also means being open to the Latino community and being gracious guests who celebrate their culture and language. This applies to any instance of celebrating cultural heritage. If we’re going to participate, we ought to do it with respect and consideration. On the part of Latinos, or more specifically in this instance, Mexican Americans, it’s an opportunity to share our heritage and teach through the beauty and excitement of music, dancing, food, traditions and more.

In truth, my perspective isn’t the most popular one and I can understand that. But, I think that my experience in our bicultural / bilingual church and hosting our fiesta has affected my outlook. Throughout the years, our two Masses, one English…one Spanish (i.e. Anglo and Hispanic) suffered through many incidents and submitted to some degree to stereotypical views that kept the people separated. We knew who the unwilling or bigoted Anglos were and which Latinos wouldn’t work with gueros. On both sides there was a lot of hesitation and even some mean spirited conversation, but although our fiesta only lasted one day, it was a day when we would all work together. And it was a day when we could all agree that Latino culture was indeed fabulous!


Gringos lined up one after another to get a taste of Sra. so and so’s amazing and authentic cooking, play games and make chit chat with individuals that they might normally find little in common with. It was a starting point, albeit an imperfect one, where gringos and Latinos could meet on middle ground. If you looked in any direction, you’d be sure to see a handful of sentimental viejitos and children frolicking happily around mariachi singers and folklórico dancers with elotes in hand.

Festivals like this occur on all kinds of holidays and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. It’s an opportunity that we can’t afford to miss out on. Perhaps some individuals won’t really grasp the social or cultural lessons involved, but I’m glad whenever I see people participating in anyone else’s cultural heritage and even more excited when true appreciation and learning is discovered.

 

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South Texas Foodie, Traveler, Photographer, and Designer.