This post is for Earth Girl who was asking what Cinco De Mayo is. To put it simply, it is a mistaken Mexican equivalent of our Independence Day. I say mistaken because most Americans familiar with the holiday consider it the equivalent the 4th of July. Technically, it should be September 15th, 1810 which is really the day that Mexico declared its independence from Spain. However, the day is a commemoration of the Battle of Puebla, in which 4000 Mexican troops soundly defeated a 8000 man French Army (along with French sympathizers from Mexico) in 1862.
Now, my grandmother (my mom's mom who grew up in Mexico) used to tell me that Cinco De Mayo was a small holiday. Mostly a few local civic celebrations, families at the park, and the like. Even during my early lifetime, growing up in the southwest, it was much more of a family get together. It didn't really take off until the past 10 or 15 years. The evolution of the holiday is somewhat suspect. Beer companies, particularly in California, were looking for a way to build up a larger latin consuming audience. They seized on the holiday and began promotions like calendars with Mexican heroes along with advertising for the holiday. Naturally, when an alcohol company begins to push something like that, it takes off. So now, in the southwest US, it is becoming as popular as St. Patrick's Day.
I'm always a bit ambivalent about the holiday which really got huge because of marketers. But, I do like to have an excuse to celebrate my heritage and the marketing does bring awareness of some of the positive aspects of Hispanics in the US. Living in Ohio now, there are no huge Cinco De Mayo celebrations since the latin community is pretty small. When I was attending Arizona State, however, the holiday was huge. There were city wide celebrations with tons of live bands (the Gin Blossoms, the Refreshments, Los Lobos, and other southwestern flavored bands), great food, and of course, booze. Rivers of Cornona and fountains of Jose Cuervo. If you ever do get the opportunity to be in the southwest during this holiday, I highly recommend it. In Phoenix, the celebration is spectacular, raucous, and flat out fun. So I'll remind everyone of the holiday and I'll have a Corona and a shot of Patron (one of the better tequilas) for everyone. If you decide to come celebrate the day with me in Ohio, drinks are on me!!!