Cinco De Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, which fails on September 16. It’s a day to commemorate the Battle of Puebla, Mexico’s victory over the French, in 1862.
The first stateside celebration was a hyper-regional event, held by Mexican miners in California who burst into songs and speeches after they received news of the historic victory. In Mexico, the holiday is celebrated in a few cities; it’s a relatively minor event. Compare that to the United States, which rings it in with nationwide celebrations, festivals, and parades that has transformed the revolutionary event into an unofficial holiday of cultural appropriative food and drink specials.
As the birthplace of frozen margaritas, it’s tempting to spend money at a local Tex-Mex chain, but try to purchase tacos from local taquerias instead. If you’re in need of a pastry or refreshing frozen treat, buy sweets from neighborhood panaderías and paleterías. There’s no better time to support Latinx-owned business, especially the mom and pop shops that are the lifeblood of many communities.
If you’re going to “celebrate” the holiday, be intentional in your choices. Use May 5 as an opportunity to learn about Mexican history and culture, instead of a themed bar crawl. When asked about the ways non-Latinx people can commemorate the holiday, Benjamin Espino, the general manager at the Latino Cultural Center, encourages people to read about the Battle of Puebla and Mexico. Start your historical journey with Alan Knight’s Mexico: Volume 1, from the Beginning to the Spanish Conquest and W. Dirk Raat’s Mexico: From Independence to Revolution, 1810-1910, two books available for purchase at Interabang Books. Continue with an in-depth reading on the formation on Mexico City in Juan Villoro ‘s Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico from Wild Detectives. The two local bookstores offer a vast selection of literature on Mexican history and culture.
The Latino Cultural Center, meanwhile, will host The Folklórico Festival of Dallas, a two-day bilingual event of traditional and folkloric music and dance of Mexico, Central, and South America after Cinco De Mayo on May 7 and 8. The festival intends to educate the community about the region’s unique culture through performances by Alma Salvaje, Ollimpaxqui Ballet Co, Inc. and Cuerdas de México, as well as community enrichment events by local artists. Head here to learn more; the events begin at 6 p.m.
Whether you attend the festival or purchase a book on Mexican history, remember the celebration of Mexican culture is not relegated to a single event or day. We’re four months away from Hispanic Heritage Month, so be sure to sign up for educational events at the Latino Cultural Center and find ways to support Latinx-owned businesses in Dallas Fort-Worth.