Happy Cinco de Mayo! Americans will Celebrate Anything!
It’s the Fifth of May! Happy Cinco de Mayo!
What does that mean besides the blatant marketing of celebrating at Mexican restaurants and pushing margaritas and tequila on people?
Why on earth do Americans-people in the US- celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
May 5th marks the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over the French in the battle of Puebla. France had invaded Mexico in 1861, intending on making it a French territory, since Mexico had defaulted on its debts to France.
Despite being outnumbered two to one, the Mexicans, a very ragtag army, managed to defeat the French at Puebla. This was more of a symbolic victory and greatly renewed the spirit of the Mexican people against the French invaders.
The war lasted several years. The United States helped back the Mexicans after the end of the US Civil War, and France was forced to withdraw in 1867.
Cinco de Mayo is not a national holiday in Mexico. It’s mainly celebrated in Puebla. It is also NOT Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16.
All I could find with my research was there was a resurgence of celebration of Mexican heritage in the 60’s. The holiday’s popularity really grew in the 1960s, when activists embraced the holiday as a way to build pride among Mexican Americans.
It was in the 1980s when the marketeers (and beer companies) found a way to promote and sell more beer on a weekday. It was a regional distributor of the Mexican beer Corona and Grupo Modelo that promoted an ad to celebrate May 5th by drinking Mexican beer. The campaign succeed and became widely popular. According to Nielsen, the market research company, Americans bought more than $600 million worth of beer last year for Cinco de Mayo. That’s more beer than was sold for the Super Bowl or St. Patrick’s Day. Americans will also spend as much as 500 million dollars on a holiday weekend versus a normal weekend according to the Wall Street Journal, so what company would not want to promote Cinco de Mayo weekend?
The fifth of May also falls at an opportune time of the year for marketing. Spring has arrived, Easter is over, it’s not Mother or Father’s Day yet. The weather is warming and people want to get outside in the sunshine.
Whether you celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Mexican beer or tacos or a mole poblano, remember there was an actual event behind the American marketing scheme. We Americans do like to celebrate the underdog, so maybe raise your glass for those Mexican fighters that beat the bigger French army. And pass the margaritas por favor.