It’s Cinco de Mayo.
You do know it’s an American celebration and not a Mexican one, right?
On this day in 1862, the Mexican Army defeated French forces in the Battle of Puebla. In the United States, May 5 is a margarita-drinking, Corona-with-a-lime sipping, Mexican food-eating blowout; in Mexico, the celebration is much more low-key. There, banks and government offices remain open, students get the day off, and the town of Puebla hosts a parade and a mock battle. That’s about it.
Oh, and today is not Mexican Independence Day—the actual Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16.
Still, California owns the bragging rights to the origin of the Cinco de Mayo holiday/not holiday. But there’s still confusion about where it began. The UCLA Center for Latino Studies says the celebration began in the gold country town of Columbia, when Mexican miners, hearing about the victory, fired off rifles and fireworks. History.com claims that Southern California gets first dibs because folks down there celebrated Mexico’s victory in a show of solidarity. At least they agree on the year: 1863.
By the 1930s, Cinco de Mayo became a celebration of Mexican identity, ethnic consciousness, and community solidarity; in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it gained a bi-national spirit when Mexican-American youths used it as a way to build Mexican-American pride. In the 1980s, the day became very American when commercialization moved in via corporate sponsors promoting celebrations—and their own products.
OK, history lesson over.
In 2020, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Today is not only Cinco de Mayo, it’s also California Takeout Tuesday. While we are flattening the curve and staying home to help fight the Coronavirus (no relation to the beer, BTW), small businesses, including restaurants, have been hit hard. Although phase two of Governor Newsom’s reopening plan starts this Friday, restaurant dining rooms are not on the list for reopening—yet. The dining rooms may be closed, but many restaurants are open for curbside pick-up, delivery, and takeout. And the takeout menu, in some cases, includes alcohol.
You don’t really have to have a taco today if you don’t want to, but you can participate in #CATakeoutTuesday, help your community, and grab some good food while supporting small businesses and their employees.
A celebration is a celebration.
Besides, not cooking or doing dishes these days is a celebration in itself.