Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

Cinco de Mayo

A day to drink beer and eat guacamole.

Editorial from the NY Times!!

Have a Happy Fiesta

Published: May 5, 2008

What would holidays be without commerce? Hallmark turned Mother’s Day from a call for peace into the day of the greeting card. De Beers turned Valentine’s Day into a reason to buy diamonds. On this day, Cinco de Mayo, we celebrate Corona’s prowess in helping craft the nation’s most famous Latino fiesta out of a battle in a Mexican city many Latinos have never heard of.

Officially, Cinco de Mayo marks the Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexican Army defeated invading French forces in 1862. The Mexican government never made much of it. That’s perhaps because the French returned a year later, trounced the Mexicans and installed Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria as emperor of Mexico for the next four years.

In Mexico, on Cinco de Mayo only Poblanos — as the people from Puebla are known — find something to celebrate. In the United States it has become a very big deal for the nation’s 45 million Hispanics, with celebrations across the country. President Bush has held Cinco de Mayo festivities at the White House.

For this north-of-the-border success, we have to thank the persuasive powers of beer. Cinco de Mayo is probably Corona’s biggest day. It has a national TV and radio campaign running and Mexican rivals like Tecate are right on its heels. Anheuser-Busch picked Cinco de Mayo to launch its new Bud Light Lime.

The party is also about tequila — with 60,000 cases sold during the first week in May last year. And, of course, guacamole — even bigger than the Super Bowl, according to the California Avocado Commission. In Atlanta, sponsors of the big Cinco de Mayo fiesta include State Farm Insurance and Hyatt Hotels.

There’s a touch of genius in the appeal of a minor historical celebration to a collection of peoples that often share little more than language and the ancestral experience of having been colonized by Spain. Had something big like Mexican Independence Day been picked for Latino Day, other Latinos would probably not have come.

Still, the identity politics can get complicated. We have heard Mexican-Americans explain how Cinco de Mayo celebrates the solidarity of California’s Hispanics with the Mexicans fighting the French in the 19th century. We’ve heard Puerto Ricans argue it has nothing to do with them. Some Latinos are offended by how American consumer culture has turned a symbol of anti-imperialist struggle into a marketing tool. Mostly we’ve seen happy revelers and happily reveled ourselves. It does make one ponder the awesome power of the profit motive.


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