Monday, May 05, 2008

A Quick Link to Cinco de Mayo's History

Here's an informative little blurb on what Cinco de Mayo actually is: a regional holiday commemorating a temporary defeat of the French (insert cheese-eating surrender monkey joke here) that somehow caught on in the U.S., and is now celebrated more by the Mexican diaspora (and those non-Mexicans who like Coronas and margaritas) than it is by actual Mexicans in Mexico outside of the state of Puebla. I find this hilarious.

Can anyone think of another case where a minor or regional holiday became a symbol of pride among a diaspora? Off the top of my head, there's Hanukkah for the American Jew... any others?

11 comments:

Ben said...

Anybody know whether St. Patrick's day is a big deal in Ireland? That's one that comes to mind as a big time ethnic holiday that's celebrated by just about everybody now.

Funny, both St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo are celebrated in America by drinking heavily. Do I see a pattern? (Not so much with Hanukkah...as far as I know.)

lsmsrbls said...

I always celebrate Bastille Day, but probably not as much as the French (I'm not sure).

Matthew B. Novak said...

Ben -

I think that has something to do with the fact that both Ireland and Mexico are largely Catholic nations.

How about Guy Fawkes Day?

Andy said...

Guy Fawkes Day is certainly celebrated by the Brits. So much so that the Brit engineers I worked with in South Carolina at Spirax would still celebrate it.

Which I think would be like one of us working in Germany and still celebrating Fourth of July.

How about our celebration of Columbus Day? How many times did he land in Ohio, much less North America?

Mike said...

Yes Ben, you do see a pattern. The typical, old fashioned, red blooded American will take any excuse he can find to have a theme night at his local bar and get shitty. I wouldn't have it any other way. (Incidentally, I had a wonderful Drinko de Mayo.)

As for Chanukah, my understanding is that that was people going, "Wait, we don't want to leave the Jews out of the pagan-inspired winter festival celebration we call Christmas which isn't even remotely close to the estimated historical time of Christ's birth, so what minor Jewish holiday can we think of that falls around the same time?" Which, if I were Jewish, likely would cause me to drink heavily.

Ben said...

Incidentally, the man most responsible for setting the date of Christmas on December 25 (or at least for creating consensus as to its date among early Christians) was a preacher/Eastern Patriarch named John Chrysostom. Interesting guy. Eloquent speaker. Wonderful tendancy to confront abuses of power. Not-so-wonderful tendancy to stir up Anti-Semitism.

You learn crap like this when you read a shallow survey of theologians (supplemented by Wikipedia articles) in your spare time. In other words, you learn crap like this if you are me.

Matthew B. Novak said...

But isn't Guy Fawkes day pretty much the exact opposite of the Fourth of July?

Andy said...

Depends on your definition of Fourth of July. Isn't it just a celebration of food like Thanksgiving?

Ben said...

Perhaps Matt means that Independence Day celebrates things blowing up whereas Guy Fawkes day celebrates the failure to blow something up. Although, both are celebrated with explosions, right?

Matthew B. Novak said...

Well, both what Ben said and the particular nature of the thing being not-blown up. Since the 4th is all about rejecting the British government and Guy Fawkes Day is all about its preservation.

Andy said...

I suspect then you've never seen Fourth of July in South Carolina. There is absolutely no mention of the British. Our valiant fight for independence? Nope. Spontaneous singings of 'America The Beautiful'? Nada. It is 100% bottle-rocket and hot-dog driven. And bad hot dogs too, you know, the fake red ones.

What about Columbus Day? Any thoughts? He never really landed here and certainly didn't discover us but we still celebrate it. Any idea if they celebrate it in Hispanola?