22 thoughts on “The Fifth

  1. in my adventures as a middle school teacher, i was once called a racist by a student (a third or fourth generation latina) when i told her that mexicans in mexico do not celebrate cinco de mayo. i angered her more when i told her that it wasn’t mexican independence day either.

    i just sighed deeply.

  2. I ate hot dogs today. A good trade with all the people consciously choosing to eat Mexican & “Mexican” food today, I guess.

  3. Cindylu,
    You summed the day up nicely! For what it’s worth, I’m making spaghetti for dinner and having an American beer. But maybe I’ll whoop out a mispronounced “Fiesta!” just in honor of the day. Maybe.

  4. I was at Whole Foods today in Santa Monica (naturally, where else would I shop?) and this customer an older typical Santa Monica lady tells the young Latino checker guy “Hey, so are you getting ready for margaritas tonight?!” And the guy pauses and answers “I don’t like margaritas.” And the lady is like “What? Really? Why not? It’s Cinco de Mayo!” And he stays quiet and then finally says to kinda placate her “I could go for some Coronas.”

    BTW, I drove by that horrible excuse for a Mexican restaurant El Coyote tonight and the place was packed with non-Mexicans (based on appearance, I could be wrong) ready to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It was like New Year’s Eve or something.

    (And yes, I eavesdrop all the time!)

  5. Screw commercialized Cinco De Mayo. Raised in a working class, part Chicano, part white world, I’m accustomed to celebrating Cinco on the Sunday closest to the 5th. And, that I did.

  6. I work at a 48-year old Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake whose staff is all Mexican (99% of them from Mexico and a couple of 2nd gens) except one Englishman, three white guys and myself. The restaurant was packed with a diverse crowd of Americans (Asians, Latinos, White, Black) some Germans from Germany, Russians from Russia, Asian/Pacific Islanders “celebrating” Cinco de Mayo drinking pitcher upon pitcher of margaritas and eating authentic Mexican food for the momentous occasion. There was also a mariachi band serenading the packed house. One of my busboy buddies at work who’s from Jalisco said that celebrating Cinco de Mayo is an American thing. In Mexico it’s just a historical day – la batalla between the French and Mexicans at Puebla.
    If there were no holidays printed in mass-produced calendars that so many of us use, there’d be little reason to celebrate anything and people would just be depressed drunks most of the year. And businesses would go under because it is less likely for people to have a reason to go out, however superficial it may be. The economy would shatter and we might end up bartering, which actually seems like more fun than living off credit cards.

  7. Apologies to victoria above for failing to use a commercialized fauxliday as an excuse to support my local businesses, but Cinco de Mayo is ignored by this gringo. After visiting Guanajuato last summer and learning about it as the birthplace of the revolution for independence in 1810, El Veintiocho de Septiembre is the date I’ll spend my money raising glasses — many in honor of El Pipila!

  8. soledadenmasa,

    Sorry if I was unclear. Didn’t mean to dis the true day independence from Spain was declared by Miguel Hidalgo on September 16 (or the evening of the 15th) in San Miguel. I’m just saying that from the personal experience of standing in the doorway of the fortress in Guanajuato that El Pipila breached, and where Hidalgo’s and the other three revolutionary leaders’ heads later hung for 10 years, the day of that great victory — September 28 — has far greater significance to me than what Cinco de Mayo has become here in the US.

  9. “…failing to use a commercialized fauxliday as an excuse to support my local businesses…”

    What does that mean? not using a “fake” holiday as a reason to support local business OR using a “fake” holiday as a reason NOT to support local business?
    What did I fail to do?

    I was just sharing what a I saw and experienced at work.

    -victoria, dumb-witted-not-sarcastic-trying-to-make-a-living-peacemaker

  10. Victoria, I wasn’t trying to disparage what or who you encountered. I’m just saying you’ll find me waiting for a table at your place on significant days in Mexico’s history that haven’t been reduced to an excuse to drink.

    I’m just gonna shut up now because clearly I’m having a stellar day in commenting.

  11. Right on, Will!
    Look at all these upcoming Mexican holidays**!

    * May 5: Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican national holiday that honors the Mexican victory over the French army at Puebla de los Angeles in 1862.
    * May 10: Mother’s Day, Due to the importance of the mother in Mexican culture, Mother’s Day is an especially significant holiday.

    * June 1: Navy Day is an official Mexican holiday.
    * June 24: Saint John the Baptist Day is celebrated with religious festivities, fairs, and popular jokes connected to getting dunked in water.
    * June 29: Fiesta of Saint Peter and Saint Paul notable celebrations in Mexcaltitán, Nayarit and Zaachila, Oaxaca.

    * September 1: Annual State of the Union, Though this date is an approximation, the President delivers the address in the autumn.
    * September 13: Los Niños Héroes, Heros of the Mexican-American War 1847. The President of Mexico commemorates their sacrifice at a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument to Los Niños Héroes in Chapultepec Park.
    * September 16: Mexican Independence Day celebrates the day that Miguel Hidalgo delivered El Grito de Dolores, and announced the Mexican revolt against Spanish rule.

    * October 12: Día de la Raza, This day celebrates Columbus’ arrival to the Americas, and the historical origins of the Mexican race.

    * November 1&2: Día de los Muertos is an important Mexican holiday that merges Pre-Columbian beliefs and modern Catholocism. Europe’s All Saints’ Day and the Aztec worship of the dead contribute to these two days that honor Mexico’s dead.
    * November 20: Mexican Revolution Day,This official Mexican holiday commemorates the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Celebrated Monday, November 16, 2009.

    * December 12: Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, or the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated with a feast honoring Mexico’s patron saint.
    * December 16: Las Posadas celebrates Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter in Bethlehem with candlelight processions that end at various nativity scenes. Las Posadas continues through January 6.
    * December 25: Navidad, Mexico celebrates the Christmas holiday.

    **source: http://www.mexonline.com

  12. A frycook in Mexicali today removed the fried eggs from the griddle and the residue left behind so closely resembled an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that the establishment shut down the kitchen, cooled the griddle and festooned it with flowers, candles and other regalia. Do you suppose this may be the birth of another Holiday?

  13. In the past two days, two Mexicans – real ones – told me they loved me. In English.
    Margaritas for everybody!
    Raise your glass! To love! Ole!

    Everyday is a holiday in the heart of East LA.
    Against a backdrop of passing frowns from drivers (who might work their exempt job at County Hospital or USC Health Sciences campus or for some city branch office) in their shiny sedans and eco-friendly SUVs on the Interstate 10 Fwy heading east to Arcadia or Diamond Bar, or west to Beverly Hills or the Pacific Palisades – generally speaking – to that “neighborhood full of Mexicans”* where “those gang members are”*, most residents work so hard to support themselves and their families that dignity and respect are values they know money can’t buy. Without celebrating life, people would have their values out of whack, que no? Lives would be about striving for the idea of the American dream – leisurely celebrity life with minimal exertion on one’s part when it comes to earning money and having a great physique.

    Everyday is a holiday anyway, whether it’s a Mexican holiday or it’s Rosh Hashanah, or someone’s freakin birthday. Just pick a day you feel like getting drunk.

    *quoting people who I’ve heard say this.

  14. I have family in Puebla and we celebrated Cinco de Mayo, but since they’re wacky Pentecostals, there was no booze involved. We did go to the zocalo and stand around watching bands, people dancing, fireworks and ate street food. To say that people in Mexico don’t celebrate it is inaccurate. People everywhere love an excuse to drink and eat street food. It’s also celebrated in D.F. too, although it seems to be a beer sponsored holiday and a good excuse to drink, eat good street food and watch fireworks. Did I mention that I like to stand around drinking watching music and eating street food? Yum.

  15. As a red blooded 3rd generation eastlos chicano, I have a lot of fond memories attached to Cinco de Mayo. Of course I agreee about all the BS comericalism and it is not a real mexican holiday, but it has been an excuse to drink (and more importantly, yell and be proud being brown)and celebrate on the eastside since the 50s and that does hold some weight in my book.

    I didnt do nothing special nor did any of my familia (sans the kiddies at school, and my dad probably took a few shots with his daily tall boy) but me and my wife did take the kids down to Olvera street that night, we hadnt done so in a few months. Being a conscious chicano it feels weird knowing the background to the cinco de mayo story as well as the patronization of latino-nonwhite cultures as some kind of objectified exotic theme; but I’m past my idealistic mid 20s and also recognize this day (aside form the commercial disgustingness)is something brown people have been doing and smiling about for quite a wile now.

    Especially in eastlos. Beyond all the drinking, it is an excuse to be exceptionally proud of one’s browness for a day (even if the whole be proud everyday thing is true also) and yell gritos (i did that, Ill admit) and althouhg a lot of non-mexicanos celebrate it, it is also celebrated by many mexicaos as well for half a century. Fuckit, I support brown pride at almost all costs, so I have some appreciation of it. Kind of like catholicism. And it is authetically eastlos, not mexican but a chicano celebration (even if it is celebrated by nonwhites the initial theme had a lot to do with marketing to mexicans) which is cool in my book.

    Olvera street was packed by the way, we walked around and ate our usual from cielito lindo on the corner and then a big dinner in chinatown.

  16. Does anyone remember those huge Cinco de Mayo festivals at Lincoln Park (LH)? I was just a little kid but I have fond memories of 70s era cholos…

  17. Say it loud Art, I’m brown and I’m proud! Long live Cinco de Mayo when everyone can be Mexican and celebrate the first Chicano to kick some European ass, at the battalla de Pueblo,
    General Ignacio Zaragosa from Texas, Viva!

  18. Do a lot of Chicanos in LA celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the Sunday before the 5th? They sure do up here. In fact, the only people up here who celebrate it on the actual 5th are white people. And, this is something I didn’t notice until the past decade or so. Growing up, white people I knew barely recognized Cinco de Mayo. It was about as celebrated as Secretary’s Day. Then, Corona and Patron packaged the holiday into an “it thing” for whites, and for some reason they really emphasize the holiday being on the actual 5th. Always felt it was better for a Sunday. After all, that’s how I grew up celebrating it.

  19. Yes, I am white, Pablo. I’m generalizing. Guilty. I have a lot of Chicano relatives, and grew up celebrating Cinco de Mayo on the Sunday beforehand. Most white people I know (better than saying just plain “white people”, I guess) never gave a shit about Cinco de Mayo until the past decade or so when it became such a commercialized holiday. But, you’re right. I’m white, and I guess therefore I’m not supposed to notice these things. LOL.

  20. cool, i agree most of the time it was just a excuse to party or eat good for me but we celebrated it on cinco de mayo and maybe the sunday before as well and the sunday after too.

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