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Cinco de Mayo: it’s more for you than it is for me

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How a fake Mexican holiday has become a real American holiday.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! It is the special day every year when Mexicans are given the chance to eat countless hard-shell tacos and grab sombreros, right? 41% of American adults strongly believe that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s official independence day according to a survey done by YouGovAmerica. They are wrong. 

However, Cinco de Mayo is not completely irrelevant to Mexican culture. On May 5, 1862, Mexico reigned victorious over French forces at the Battle of Puebla during the Mexican Civil War. The French, led by Napoleon III (nephew of Napoleon I), were thought to be much stronger than the Mexicans until General Ignacio Zaragoza led an attack that resulted in 1,000 dead French soldiers. Even though this win marked a significant event in Mexican history, it has never been deemed a national holiday.

Unfortunately, since the early 1970’s Cinco de Mayo has become a generally Americanized celebration. In fact, more Americans celebrate this holiday than Mexicans. Record numbers of beer, avocados, and tacos are sold on May 5th every year across the United States of America. Meanwhile, most Mexicas treat May 5th as just another regular day. 

Although Cinco de Mayo does have its historical significance, our real independence day falls on September 16. On this day in 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla bravely rung the bells atop a church in Dolores, Mexico to signal the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence. Hidalgo was a priest who had a great interest in philosophy and politics. He cared deeply about the rights of the indeginous Mexican people who were being treated unfairly by the Spaniards who ruled at the time. This day is celebrated across Mexico with parades and parties on every corner. In fact, Miguel Hidalgo’s famous words are still recited in Dolores every year to remember his courage. “Mexicanos! !¡Viva la Independencia! !¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! ¡Muera el mal gobierno!” (Mexicans! Long live Independence! Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to our bad government!)

If you still plan to party on Cinco de Mayo this year, congratulations! You get to celebrate twice. Once for Mexican Independence Day, and another for the day Americans still think is our independence day.

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About the Contributor
Sofia Barrera, Opinion Editor
Sofia Barrera is the Opinion Editor for The Beat and was formerly a staff writer for two years. Covering Carrollton policy debate and global opinion topics, Sofia is passionate about promoting student journalism in an educational atmosphere. She was awarded an honorable mention last year at the Journalism Education Association Convention in San Francisco, California. Apart from journalism, Sofia is also the shadow president of Model UN, a business manager for the Solar Car Racing Team, and an alto in the school choir.