Words by Aspasia Celia Tsampas
Illustrations by Katie Herchenroeder
Much like St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco De Mayo is another notorious party holiday. However, while it is expected that many non-Chicano people celebrate, respecting the holiday’s origins and celebrating the culture of Mexico is first and foremost. With that being said, here are three major dos and don’ts for Celebrating Cinco De Mayo respectfully.
DO Know your history
May 5 is not Mexican Independence Day—that’s September 16. Cinco De Mayo was really established in Mexico to commemorate 1862 after the Mexican army defeated the French in what became known as the Battle of Puebla during the second French intervention in Mexico. The holiday was brought to America in the 1950s to teach Mexican Americans about their heritage, as well as non-Chicano people about the culture. From there, Americans used the commemoration of this serious battle to party and drink. While it’s commonplace to join in on the festivities, respecting the history of the holiday is essential.
DON’T wear “costumes”
There is a line between celebration and racism and you NEVER want to cross it. Avoid appropriating Chicano culture by skipping out on the sombreros and fake moustaches. To say the least, it is extremely culturally insensitive. This also includes appropriating the Spanish language. As clever as someone may think “Cinco De Drinko” sounds, this kind of inappropriate usage mocks the day and Mexico as a whole. While you can enjoy a frozen margarita or a round of tequila shots, the holiday is not about drinking. In short, don’t belittle the sacrifices that were made on this day in history for a bad pun. Also, if you see a friend perpetuating these stereotypes, hold them accountable. This kind of behavior should not be tolerated.
DO support authentic Mexican businesses
This is New York City, arguably the most diverse place in the world. Seeking out authentic Mexican owned businesses to support on this holiday should be easy and rewarding. Try any mole from La Morada, the tacos from Ponche Taqueria & Cantina or the elote from Cantina Royal. If you do want to enjoy a refreshing cocktail or glass of wine, El Parador Café has been serving up a full bar since 1959, with the classiest margaritas, pitchers of sangria, and extensive wine list in NYC. If you can handle the heat, try the spicy jalapeno margarita from Barrio Chino. For dessert, don’t skip the churros, flan, or tres leches cake with your Mexican hot chocolate from café Frida. If you’re near City College, Las Americas Bakery between 135th and Broadway has tres leches and other delicious treats!