Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cinco De Mayo

Cinco De Mayo is such a funny holiday. It celebrates an event of limited regional significance in Mexico that is of no significance to most of the world and now holds claim as a legitimate holiday based solely on the fact that in Spanish "the fifth of May" rhymes. I think it's safe to say that most people in the United States (myself included until I went to Wikipedia) have no clue what Cinco De Mayo commemorates.

But it doesn't matter. Cinco De Mayo is great for what it has become. An excuse to get together with friends and enjoy yourself. A reason to throw a party for party's sake, one that you likely wouldn't have thrown otherwise. Cinco De Mayo is sort of like National Tuna Fish and Pasta Day. It's a holiday of questionable importance that, if nothing else, exists as an excuse to be happy.

The outlook for our Cinco De Mayo's, for the foreseeable future, is favorable. Our neighbor three houses down started a Cinco De Mayo party last year, our first year in this house, threw it again this year, and now plans on making it an annual event. She, and her friends and coworkers are all great people, so it's a great time. And we can get a little toasty (or in Kate's case this year, a LOT toasty) and then walk home. What a great holiday!

Interested in the sordid history? Here's a quick synopsis. In 1861, Mexico stopped making interest payments to its major international creditors. In response France and a few other countries attacked Mexico to force payment. During the second major engagment between Mexican and French forces, on May 5, 1862 in the city of Puebla at the aptly named Battle of Puebla, the much more larger French army was defeated, an army that hadn't been defeated in 50 years.

Horray for Mexico! A deadbeat debtor filchs on its debt, wins out over a legitimate creditor, and much blood is shed. It's your classic underdog story. But it was all for naught. A year later the French attacked Mexico City, occupied it, and placed a puppet emperor on the throne. So horray for France! An imperialist power succeeds in subjogating a nation over cash, continuing its hard-nosed domination of world politics.

Either way you look at it, Cinco De Mayo celebrates a silly little blip in world history. Better to erase the historical significance, or at least your memory of it with a dozen or so Coronas and enjoy yourself.

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