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The Ugly – Cinco de Mayo Celebrations Are A Hijacked Holiday

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Hijacked Holiday

So, this is truly the ugly side of cultural appropriation from Mexico. A one-time celebration of victory in battle is now just a marketing man’s dream. Whilst proclaiming to promote the food, fashion and arts of Mexico, it’s drinking holding pride of place. So any Mexican gambling laws of decency would halt this silliness would be optimistic to say the least. Outside interests have appropriated and exploited this supposedly Mexican holiday. Alas, in Mexico it’s not very special.

Making a mess of your own history is one thing, mangling someone else’s? Just a little galling. This is especially true if you’re only going to use it as an excuse to get drunk anyway. Apparently, St Patrick’s day wasn’t enough. So in recent decades, Cinco de Mayo has become ever more popular, and not necessarily with Mexicans. Contrary to frequent public misperceptions, they don’t really celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Mexico. So this hijacked holiday is now as hollow as it is drunken.  

Back in 1861, it was, naturally, headline news. The defeat of the French at Puebla was quite the success. Perhaps the reason the Mexicans don’t celebrate this hijacked holiday, however, is because they know that victory was but brief. There were far reaching military and geo-political significance to it. However, that’s just a little too complex for someone out of their gourd on Corona and tacos. That’s why it is often wrongly thought of as being Mexican Independence Day. And It isn’t.

80’s Marketing Sees Sales Boost Opportunity 

Mexican Independence Day is September 16th, a fact that escapes far too many after a few too many. This hijacked holiday has far more significance as preventing French help to the South in the US Civil war. Perhaps marking the last invasion of the Americas by a European power. The superior French force defeated it set an example to others. So then how is it now just an excuse to drink tequila, eat nachos and listen to mariachi bands? Enter the marketing men of the 1980s.

General Zaragoza

“The national arms are covered with glory.”

Edward Bernays proved advertising could move societies. So then, it is unsurprising that a society can be moved to drink by such gaudy glitter. The 1980s and 90s saw numerous companies hop on this bandwagon. These days this hijacked holiday draws larger beer sales in the United States than St Patrick’s Day. Even Super Bowl beer sales don’t match Cinco de Mayo now. So, it is an entirely manufactured celebration perpetuated pointedly to sell more alcohol.

Hijacked Holiday
Cinco de Mayo is one of the most colorful festivals of the world – Image source: Flickr

Hijacked Holiday From Mexico More Significant Abroad

Mexicans know this. So, whilst Puebla closes its public schools on the day, and Veracruz takes a day off, for most of Mexico, this is not a special day. It isn’t a national holiday. Few Mexicans will celebrate. So even fewer will to the excesses outside Mexico itself. Alas, this supposedly Mexican hijacked holiday is now just a sales boost for bars and restaurants. It doesn’t matter which city in which country. That taco place down the road will be celebrating. It’s a marketing freebie. Like Valentine’s Day is for roses.

Conan O’Brien

“Happy Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that’s as respectful of Mexican traditions as the Epcot Center’s Mexican food pavilion.”

What has made this obviously faux hijacked holiday so popular is that it has appropriated something people like. The food is excellent, the beer lovely and the tequila…… well the less said about that the better. Those who like to bet on sports in Mexico on bet365 can watch wrestling anytime, but only on Cinco de Mayo can you watch someone with a broad New York accent try to speak Spanish whilst three sheets to the wind. It’s not pretty. It would wholly bemuse General Zaragoza. 

Read more about the plundering of Mexican culture

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We take a look at how Cinco de Mayo became a hijacked holiday exploited for profit by people outside Mexico.

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