Interviews on Cinco de Mayo
Above is a video I compiled and uploaded to Youtube from my encounters with people on Cinco de Mayo. Clearly, this day was not only a celebration for Poblanos, not only for Mexicans, and not even for Hispanics, EVERYONE felt more than welcome to join in the festivities. Some people just happened to know the history behind the holiday, others expressed an interest in Mexican culture, and still others just wanted to party. One of the great things about New York City is that so many different types of people come together on days like this.
Interview with Victor Flores
Q: How is Cinco de Mayo celebrated in Mexico? Do you think it’s different in New York City?
“Cinco de mayo is a holiday in Mexico. It is the day of the battle of Puebla, when the Mexicans defeated the French. The French landed in Veracruz, and started making their way towards mexico city. As you know, Puebla is pretty close to mexico city, so they came pretty close. But that’s when they lost.
BUT ITS NOT ONE OF THE BIG HOLIDAYS. Yes, you get a day off from school, but the banks are open, and people work. It is not a holiday like ‘Independence Day’- in fact, I would say Columbus Day, “El Dia de la Raza” is a bigger holiday in the scheme of things.
When I moved here with my family to New York City in 1977, Cinco de Mayo came and went, and it was a totally ordinary day. NOBODY even knew the phrase ‘Cinco de Mayo.’
The funny thing is that it has become such a big holiday in the US, that it is actually becoming a bigger holiday in Mexico, as a copy cat thing, I guess. In fact, I’m pretty sure most people used to call the holiday ‘La Batalla de Puebla’ (because Cinco de Mayo is the day of the Battle of Puebla.)
Just like ’12 de octubre’ is ‘el dia de la raza,’ and ’12 de diciembre’ es ‘el dia de la virgin de guadalupe.’ We started attending Cinco de Mayo events here in Flushing Meadow Park when they started in 2000.”
Victors insights on the holiday were very helpful when I needed to figure out what Cinco de Mayo is really all about- what it was back then and what is becoming. His comment that the celebration has grown there, as a copy-cat thing, shows that the Americanization is so fundamental to what Cinco de Mayo is. The Battle of Puebla happened in Mexico a long time ago, but the celebrations started here in America pretty recently. It got big here. So what’s wrong with all of us Americans joining in the fun to celebrate?