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Celebrating the Real Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo 2020

May 4, 2020

“What is Cinco de Mayo?” “Is it Independence Day?” “Let’s celebrate!?”

I get these questions asked to me a lot because as a teacher, students are always interested and wanting to have a “celebration day” rather than a grammar lesson. This year is different because we are not in school and we are not going to have a day to celebrate together. The question is left unanswered. What does Cinco de Mayo actually celebrate?

I come from a Mexican background where we have celebrated and cherish our Mexican culture in all the ways possible in the United States. We celebrate Independence Day, Day of the Dead and Three Kings Day, but we have never celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Why? When I went to school, we learned about the day, but we never celebrated it because it “didn’t happen in our city.” That was always the reason.

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo was the battle of Puebla, a city in the state of Mexico. The French were trying to take over the city and their goal was to take over a part of Mexico. Even though The French were clearly more prepared then the Mexican community, the Mexicans persisted and won the battle with little damage done to the Mexican people. According to many sources, the power and bravery was what helped the people of Puebla to beat the French army away from their land. They fought for their people and for their state, the battle literally only lasted a day! Crazy, right?

How to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo During COVID-19

So, what can we do if we want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? If anything, I would say celebrate by talking about it. Read about the event. Do a quick online search to watch videos sharing how Puebla defeated the French on this day. The Mexican culture is rich and full of ways to immerse yourself in it. Want to feel like you’re in Mexico? Support a Mexican restaurant by ordering some take out. Drink some Horchata! Listen to folkloric/typical Mexican music. One thing that I did learn and do tell the people around me is that Mexico does not stop for this day because it is just a regular day, but to Puebla it isn’t. It’s the day they protected and saved their city. It’s a day to remember and to cherish our land and to be proud. So, what do you say? Let’s celebrate!

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Karina Suarez Luna

Karina Suarez Luna is a Spanish teacher at Des Moines Public Schools. She has been working for DMPS for four years. Karina studied and graduated from Central College in 2016. Go Dutch! I am not a blogger. I am a teacher and am always trying to find new ways to contribute to my community.