Know the history before you party on Cinco de Mayo

May 4, 2015

DeKeveion Glaspie
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Get out your margarita cups, sombreros and ponchos – it’s Cinco de Mayo!

But while you’re partying, remember why we’re even celebrating May 5.

In the U.S., we have integrated holidays from other cultures, welcoming them with open arms, but often forgetting the meaning of the holiday.

Cinco de Mayo, not to be confused with Mexico’s independence day on September 16, celebrates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. This is the history that people should know.

In Mexico, excluding the city of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is a low-key event. In Puebla, visitors and locals can enjoy a month’s worth of events starting in the middle of April.

In the U.S., the holiday has turned into a day of taking shots, heavy partying and is more of a cultural spectacle.

Cinco de Mayo was started by Mexican-American youths in the 1950s and ‘60s. It was a celebration that has helped establish Mexican-American pride.

But like most holidays, its significance has become overshadowed by drinking and corporate sponsors who aim to make a few bucks.

As a young teen, my parents required me to take a foreign language course. I chose Spanish and every year, we would celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Students would bring in food and listen to music after reading about what we are celebrating. We celebrated the holiday in a fun way while becoming educated on its historical impact.

Holidays need to go beyond just celebrating with food and music. There is so much history behind the holidays, history lost by the excuse to drink.

It is wonderful that we as a nation celebrate and embrace various cultures. But we need to have a better understanding of the significance of holidays.

To promote education and understanding, UCCS should have education booths. We should know what exactly we are celebrating not only with Cinco de Mayo, but with any holiday that has a historical background.

So before you take that shot of tequila or prepare tacos for Cinco de Mayo, take the time to know what you are celebrating and why. Put education before alcohol.