Thursday, May 5, 2011

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Portland, OR: Cinco de Mayo Fiesta
Before we get to the fun parts of Cinco de Mayo, we have to first talk a little bit about the holiday. Let's start off by talking about what Cinco de Mayo is not. It is not the Mexican Fourth of July (Independence Day).  Mexico's Independence Day is September 16, and celebrates the beginning of their War for Independence from Spain in 1810. So if the Fifth of May doesn't celebrate Mexican Independence, what does it commemorate? The Mexican Army's 1862 victory over French Imperial Troops at the Battle of Pueblo, of course.  I recommend heading on over to the Wiki article for a bit more background. TIME magazine comments on the significance of this battle, "Mexico was still occupied by the French a year later, but the Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath" (from the article, "Top 10 Drunken Holidays").
The Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the Mexican State of Pueblo, but otherwise it is an American Holiday. It is a day on which those of Mexican Decent and Gringos alike can celebrate the contributions of Mexican Culture to the United States; whether that be through music, food, dance,  or yes, downing a few cervezas y margaritas

After the jump, lots more about  Cinco de Mayo.

 Celebrating Mexican Culture is important for Americans, and the first family likes to set a good example. Here are a couple of pictures of our First Lady:

Michelle Obama enjoys a Cinco de Mayo Performance, 2009

This above photo reminds me of Cinco de Mayo assemblies I participated in at Mount Washington Elementary in Los Angeles. I vividly recall learning De Colores along with accompanying dance in  Mrs. Carlson's 2nd Grade Class. What a lovely song.  I found a great clip of childhood favorite Raffi singing it:

Okay, back to Michelle...

White House Cinco de Mayo Reception, 2010
 I love her bold colorful choice from last year. While this Thakoon watercolor dress is obviously not a traditional folklórico ensemble, she still was able to incorporate some of the bright colors that we associate with the dress of Cinco de Mayo. Check out my own outfits inspired by the day!

I'm a sucker for color and full skirts, so always love the traditional dancers. The dancing itself is good too!
A great Buster Bluth mariachi moment! This is how you woo a Spanish language soap opera star!
And finally, if you had any doubt as to how Cinco de Mayo is an American holiday, Barbie herself gets in on the fun!
Cinco de Mayo Barbie Doll
And even if it's been commercialized, anglicized and alcoholized, Cinco de Mayo is still a fun time to reflect upon and celebrate the unique mix of heritages that make up America and the important influence on Mexican and Chicano culture in our lives. Lighten up. It's a party. ¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo a todos!

UPDATE: For those of you that are curious, here's what Michelle wore at this year's reception. Her statement belt is one of many in her collection by Alaia:

Photo: Pool/Getty Images

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