As May 5th draws closer, you may find yourself falling prey to the popular myth that Cinco de Mayo originated because a gringo put a lime in a bottle of Corona and yelled Andale! Andale! Arriba! Arriba!
Not only would you be wrong, but you may have watched a wee too much Speedy Gonzales in your childhood. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Or perhaps you’ve fallen prey to this one:
Most people don’t know that back in 1912, Hellman’s mayonnaise was manufactured in England. The “Titanic” was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after New York City.
This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico from NY. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.
The people of Mexico were crazy about mayonnaise and were eagerly awaiting the delivery, so they were disconsolate at their loss. Their anguish was so great that they declared it a National Day of Mourning, and they still observe it to this day.
It is known, of course, as Sinko de Mayo.
And if you believed that one, as many people who reported it to Snopes, you may need to slow down on those tequila shots. C’mon, Rose and Jack would surely have passed all that mayonnaise as they ran out the ship. And don’t you think James Cameron would have included some great shots of jars of frozen mayonnaise floating in the water? In 3-D no less?
So what exactly IS Cinco de Mayo? Well, it’s time for a little history lesson, folks. This blog is nothing if it’s not educational. Well, okay, it’s not too educational, but I’d be neglectful if I didn’t provide some factual information here. And I’m happy to have the chance to show off my mad research skillz.
On May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army defeated French forces in the Battle of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for the 5th of May) is celebrated across the U.S. and in some regions of Mexico. In the U.S., it is a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day, which is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico. That day is celebrated on September 16.
On June 7, 2005, the U.S. Congress issued a Concurrent Resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the U.S. to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
So there you have it. We Americans took a perfectly honorable celebration and…well…we bastardized it just as we did with St. Patrick’s Day.
Any excuse for a party, right?
Yet I’m not one to complain. I’ll be right out there with the others honoring this holiday as only we Americans can pay our respects. Let’s take a look at the way we’ll get our party hats on. Maybe you can use some of these suggestions.
- The first thing that comes to mind, at least my mind, is the drink of choice. Hands down, it’s tequila. Corona may do it for some, but tequila is the drink du jour. Sorry, I took French, not Spanish. Anyway if you’re going to do it, do it right. Make it Patron. And by all means, go find that long-lost shaker of salt. After all, Margaritaville is anywhere you want it to be.
Whether you choose to imbibe or not, you must indulge in some Mexican cuisine. Tacos, tamales, burritos, nachos, you name it. Some will want to experience the finest Mexican cuisine around. Others will settle for the Taco Bell drive-thru. At the very least, buy yourself a big bag of Doritos and chow down.
- On the subject of Taco Bell, this would be a fine day to also pay homage to Gidget, the Taco Bell chihuahua. My vast research has taught me that poor Gidget followed the light just a few years ago and went to Doggie Heaven. My sombrero’s off to Gidget and in her honor, I will pet a chihuahua on May 5th.
- Ah yes, the sombrero. A fashion must-have for May 5th. Not only will this hat put you on the fashion “Do” list, but it’s pretty practical as well. You can cover your face so no one will be the wiser that it’s you belting out La Bamba after too many tequila shots. And your face will be well-protected from the sun after you lay in the sun for hours and pass out on a sidewalk somewhere. You might even be able to consider it protective headgear, sort of like a beer helmet. And if alcohol isn’t your thing, you can always use the hat to swipe some extra nachos to take home with you from the restaurant. Who needs a doggie bag?
- What’s a party without music? Not real Mexican music, but real American-ized Latin pop tunes, such as “Livin Da Vida Loca”, “She Bangs”, or anything by Gloria Estefan, Richie Valens, Enriquie (or Julio) Iglesias, or Shakira. Nothing says Cinco de May better than “Hips Don’t Lie”.
- Carry around a couple of maracas. Or maybe just one, because you’ll need a hand for your drink. On 2nd thought, skip this one. You may be tempted to shake your maraca and spill your Patron.
- Don’t forget the piñata. Just be careful with that stick. You might poke your eye out. And nothing spoils a party more than someone poking their eye out.
If all this partying takes it toll (and if you’re drinking tequila, it most certainly will), take that much-deserved siesta. You earned it. Refresh yourself, then get up and start all over again.
Have a mucho happy Cinco de Mayo!