As indigenous people of the USA, we understand cultural appropriation all too well. With Cinco de Mayo creeping up, we want to teach our readers who don’t know about Cinco de Mayo and how to respectfully celebrate the holiday. In an attempt to do this, we did a little investigating and learning.

There are a few things you need to know about Cinco de Mayo. First, it is not Mexican Independence Day (and in case you forgot, it’s September 16th). Second, it’s an extremely important day in Mexican history, which leads into our last thing you need to know: it’s not an excuse to get drunk on margaritas and full on nachos.  

We’re not saying you can’t celebrate “The Fifth of May” (literal translation of Cinco de Mayo). What we’re getting at is if you really want to celebrate the Mexican holiday, take some time to understand the history behind Cinco de Mayo and learn about the Mexican culture.

The history of Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo is probably one of the most celebrated holidays in the world, yet misunderstood. Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration held on May 5 each year. The date commemorates the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in Mexico. A quick history lesson: Benito Juarez, a Zapotec Native and president of Mexico at the time, announced wanting to stop paying a foreign debt to focus on Mexico. The French were not happy to hear that and provoked them to invade. The victory was significant as the French army of 6,000 strong men attacked the poorly equipped Mexican army of 4,000.

How it’s celebrated differently between Mexico and the U.S.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated everywhere in the U.S, with parades, food, music, dancing, and drinking. Schools usually assign projects that promote Mexican culture to students while restaurants offer specials on various Mexican food. In Mexico, the celebrations are mostly ceremonial, such as military parades.

How to celebrate respectfully.

For this section, we asked ourselves, “How would we want everyone to celebrate one of our holidays?” First thing is to learn about the history and importance of Cinco de Mayo. Second thing on our list is if you really want to celebrate by dining out, support a Mexican-owned business who recognize Cinco de Mayo itself. Third, don’t get wasted in the name of Cinco de Mayo. And lastly, refuse to wear cultural appropriating garbage like this: