Cinco De Mayo: What Gringos Should Know About Celebrating The 1862 Battle of Puebla

While many Americanos don’t know why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated, most agree that one of the recognized ways to honor the occasion is to drink heavily, similar to St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras. While this can add immensely to often boisterous and joyful celebrations, it can also inherently lead to problems.

drinko de mayo
People need to be careful they don't over do it on Cinco de Mayo.

In fact, Cindy Rodriguez of CNN, laments the fact that Cinco de Mayo has become a “drinking holiday” in the U.S. So much so that the historic date, which actually commemorates the Mexican Army giving the French a severe beat down in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, has earned nicknames such as Cinco de Drinko and Gringo de Mayo.

boys drinking
Some Anglo gentlemen celebrate Cinco de Mayo, state-side.

She also notes that Cinco de Mayo is a far bigger deal in the U.S. than Mexico and gives some tips on how U.S. Gringos – “so as not to offend others and/or embarrass” themselves – should not celebrate Cinco De Mayo. These gringo error estúpidos include: Well, one rule this story already just violated:

“Avoid using your high school level Spanish with native Spanish speakers today.”

What? You mean I can’t show off my high school spanish tonight by standing up at the bar and announcing, “Uno mas, margarita, por favor!” Not even if I properly roll my R’s?

Not according to Rodriguez. This would equal an attempt to “awkwardly connect” and “likely come off as cheesy and empty”.

Along these same lines, no matter what, DO NOT ask someone to “speak Spanish for your amusement” on Cinco de Mayo. Is there honestly some goofy Gringo out there that would really do that? Talk about weird. And according to Rodriguez, to do so is “just disrespectful”. Common Sense also dictates that asking someone to speak Spanish for your amusement would be pretty obnoxious even on Quatro de Mayo, Christmas, or any other day, so don’t do it!

Rodriguez further points out that real Mexicans, in Mexico, would never say “Happy Cinco de Mayo”. Again, it’s not even really a notable date south of the border, “let alone” celebrated, so “simmer down”, Gringos.

don't do
An American family poses for a Cinco de Mayo portrait, violating some suggested "don't"s of CNN's Cindy Rodriguez.

Other things Gringos should avoid doing on Cinco de Mayo are donning their sombreros and fake mustaches, getting super hammered on tequila, and last but not least, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, “plan a trip to Mexico to celebrate a ‘real’ Cinco de Mayo.” Of course, Rodriguez has pointed this out several times, but it obviously bears repeating, Cinco de Mayo isn’t really celebrated in Mexico. It’s more of a U.S. thing. Got it? Comprende? Ay, caramba! Instead, Rodriguez suggests that:

If you’re genuinely interested in Mexico, head to San Diego, San Antonio or even Mexico City on September 16 and indulge in an authentic experience in all things Mexican.”

In the end – though some may view it as just an ignorant American, manufactured holiday – Cinco de Mayo does also embrace the power, beauty, heritage and pride of Mexico and Mexican Culture.

Viva Mexico
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the power, beauty and heritage of Mexico and Mexican culture.

And with that in mind, make your Cinco de Mayo safe, fun, and of course: Stay thirsty my friends. Images via Google Images