“We are nothing but bricks from our cultural molds”
― Bangambiki Habyarimana
Holding on to the cultural and traditional practices, in the times marked with identity crisis, one earns the sense of identity. The culture, the tradition and the language, correspond to the fundamental parameters of one’s identity. Cinco de Mayo, is one such cultural practice that celebrates Mexican heritage. Observed as a national holiday, May 5 is annually celebrated to commemorate the victory of Mexican army over France at the Battle of Puebla. Referred to as the ‘Battle of Puebla Day’, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated as a means to pay reverence to the nation for its arduous victory against France. Contemporarily, giving way to honor Mexican culture and heritage, Cinco de Mayo is a day to learn, appreciate and respect Mexican history.
Historically, the nineteenth century, was tumultuous year for Mexico. From seeking independence from Spain in 1821 to fighting against America from 1846-1848 to witnessing the brutal civil-war in 1857, Mexico had financially ruined. Mexican president, Bento Juarez, taking into consideration the falling state of affairs, then issued a statement, suspending the payments to all foreign debts for two years. Enraged over the moratorium, England, Spain and France decided to invade Mexico by January 1862. Realizing Napoleon’s (III) intend; to replace Mexican democracy with French monarchy, England and Spain withdrew, however, France viciously attacked Mexico. French troops headed by General Charles Lorencez, on May 5, 1862, gathered its army—supported by heavy artillery—before the city of Puebla and led an assault.
France losing round 500 while Mexico 100, soldiers in the battle, resulted in the grand victory of Mexico over France. Comprehensively, glorifying Mexico as a victorious nation, May 5, aptly illustrates nation’s pride and honor.
Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day- September 16, for the sense of patriotism infused through each. Mexicans across the globe jubilantly observe, Cinco de Mayo, a day to glorify their identity; their Mexican ancestry. From decorating the houses to cooking traditional Mexican food to singing songs to dancing merrily, 5 May is all about spreading happiness, laughter and love. Not just confining to the boundaries of Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is exultantly recognized in the United States. Research reveals that the first observance of Cinco de Mayo in America was in fact in the state of California, aiming to celebrate the Mexican resistance to French rule. Continuing with the cultural richness, 5 May, is awaited by Mexicans to re-assert their identity in the world. The identity being a marker of ‘self’, palpably, defines one’s individuality infiltrated in one’s history and culture. Thus, Mexicans living in different nook and cranny of the world, clearly, eulogize their Mexican heritage through Cinco de Mayo.
Incepting with parades, speeches, and re-enactments of the 1862 battle, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated each year marking cultural richness of Mexico. Denoting to one of the images of “Women performing a traditional Mexican dance at a Cinco de Mayo celebration in Los Angeles, 2002”, the layer full of enthusiasm and celebration sneaks in.
Firmly situating its existence in the vast panorama of world culture, Mexico builds itself through the sense of taste- tacos and mole poblano, and hear- Tejano, Norteno, Banda. Owing to the fascination of Mexican food and Mexican songs, Cinco de Mayo, endearingly, displays Mexican heritage at the forefront. Celebrations intending to educate the youth about their historical achievements, special events- ballet folkloric and mariachi, etc., are planned in order to prioritize Mexican culture. Nevertheless, traditional festivals, accompanied with live concerts, dance performances, and enchanting food delicacies, illustrate why Mexicans wait for the 5 May each year?
Furthermore, venting out the love for Mexico- history and culture, Mexicans relish with indigenous drinks and folk music; evidently, welcoming the world to its space of fun and frolic. 5 May is hence, a day in Mexico that invites people from across borders to come share the richness of Mexico. The fondness for Mexican music, art, culture, tradition, is all catered under the roof named, Cinco de Mayo. Building on one of the anecdotes, by Galen Scott, he states, “I remember long conversations with my host father and with one of my good friends there about the different musical traditions. While Mexicans also enjoy more modern music styles like rock, the traditional music is still very present in modern day Mexican life. You will hear it on the buses, in the market, at home, and even featured on television game shows. The big name performers of the Mexican folk music are as celebrated there as Louis Armstrong and Elvis are for Americans. So when honoring their Mexican heritage, it is no wonder that music plays a prominent role in their celebrations”.
Hooking on one of the popular quotes, “We have the ability to achieve, if we master the necessary goodwill, a common global society blessed with a shared culture of peace that is nourished by the ethnic, national and local diversities that enrich our lives,”, facilitates humankind. So here is a shoutout to happiness, celebration and love, lucidly voicing humankind. A fresh greeting on Cinco de Mayo, reminding Mexican heritage of its rich history, culture and tradition. Accompanied with parades, food, music, folkloric dances, drinks, battle re-enactments, it is the time to say, a happy Cinco de Mayo!. Wishing a festival of joy and light; commemorating Mexican Army’s victory over French, let us once again come together as a unit to celebrate democracy, rejoice cheerfulness, foster kindness and hone generosity. Cheers to another delightful day- 5 May, hoping to bring good luck, prosperity, joy and laughter. May the colorfulness of Cinco de May, illuminate the lives of people and burn the perils of Pandemic. With the gleam of rich Mexican heritage, chants of folklore, taste of delicacies, strength of togetherness, may the festival of Cinco de Mayo, bless the world with laughter, love and healthy life. A reminder to what Bangambiki Habyarimana states, “We are nothing but bricks from our cultural molds”, here is a toast to rich Mexican heritage, a very happy Cinco de Mayo!.