Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dieciséis de Mayo

Dieciséis de Mayo...granted, it doesn't quite roll of the tongue like Cinco de Mayo, which is a clear sign that this blog post missed the mark by eleven days.  But when it comes right down to it, for the average American, the 16th of May shouldn't be any more or less celebratory than the 5th of May.  When I was driving around on Saturday the 5th, it took me a few minutes to understand why the electronic signs on the highway read "Increased DWI patrols this weekend."  Cinco de Mayo, of course...but just because I finally understood it doesn't mean it made any sense to me.

We're in the middle of Minnesota--if we were any farther north, we'd be in Canada.  The population around here is about as white as the winters are long...and white.  There are approximately fifteen people in the state who are of Mexican heritage...certainly not enough to warrant increased DWI patrols.  Cinco de Mayo is intended to celebrate Mexican heritage and why are so many white people celebrating?

I'm willing to bet most Americans don't even know exactly what they're celebrating.  And no, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's version of the 4th of July--Mexican independence day falls on September 16th. I certainly didn't know the origins of this Mexican holiday; in the days leading up to the 5th, I heard some reference to an event in 1862 and decided to look it up.  Apparently Cinco de Mayo honors the Mexican army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Again, it seems unusual that so many Americans are celebrating Cinco de Mayo.  I heard plenty of coworkers talking about Cinco de Mayo parties they were either hosting or attending that weekend.  It might make sense in California or Texas, or anywhere within the general vicinity of a southern border...but here in Minnesota?  In the days leading up to the 5th, my email inbox was inundated with invitations to celebrate at various Mexican restaurants:

If every person of Mexican heritage in the state of Minnesota decided to eat at the same Mexican restaurant that day, they wouldn't even max out the seating capacity.  All this celebrating among my fellow non-Mexicans makes me wonder if the streets of Mexico are filled with wild, drunken revelry on America's national holidays.  Are Mexican policemen patrolling the streets across the country, looking for drivers who hit the Dos Equis bottle a bit too hard at their 4th of July celebrations?  And do the Federales spend Presidents' Day shutting down wild bashes?

Once thing is clear--unless you're Mexican, Cinco de Mayo is the epitome of a bottom-tier holiday.  Unless the 5th falls on a weekend, we don't get the day off, there's no exchange of gifts (though I'd argue that's not necessarily a bad thing), and hardly anyone knows exactly what they're celebrating.  All this writing about Cinco de Mayo has me inspired to formally develop my criteria for top-tier, mid-tier, and bottom-tier holidays--perhaps the perfect topic for a future post on Passionately Apathetic...

Like St. Patrick's Day and every Sunday during football season, Cinco de Mayo is little more than an excuse for Americans to drink and party.  I'm no fun-hater--drinking and partying certainly have their place--but why can't people just drink and party for the sake of drinking and partying?  Why can't Americans just be honest with one another?  There's no need to hide the nation's collective drunkenness behind false passion for another country's holiday.  So whether its May 5th, May 16th, or any other day of the year, feel free to throw your parties and drink your intoxicating beverages...just do the world a favor and don't feign interest in the outcome of the Battle of Puebla.

The only vehicle who's driver could get pulled over for sober driving.

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