Cinco de Moscow

So what the heck is this day really about anyway?


Does the date of May 5 commemorate Mexican Independence as is widely believed? Was there some kind of mass exodus to the US on this date many years ago? Is it the celebration of the introduction of mayonnaise to the Mexican people?

No matter really since the day has ultimately lost its true meaning to the throngs of plastic sombrero wearing, Corona guzzling partiers.

The truth is that Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Initially it was a regional holiday celebrated only in the Mexican state of Puebla.

Eventually it spread to other parts of Mexico and those U.S. cities with significant Mexican populations. Over time it found its way into all corners of the US, especially college campuses, and tragically evolved into just another excuse for a bender but with a twist of lime or a rim of salt.

Never one to give in to the expected, I found myself sitting in the Russian Samovar (256 W 52nd St. NYC) sipping vodka and debating religion, politics, culture and more with my new friend Amy. I half expected to see the bar revving up the blenders and breaking out the Tequila for rounds of frozen concoctions. Thankfully this did not happen.

Amy and I rambled on about this and that. Some subjects were deep and important like a viable immigration policy in the US. Others were considerably less serious like deciphering the difference between fame and infamy in today’s celebrity.

All the while not a thought crossed my mind regarding France’s desire to expand its empire and collect on debts owed by Mexico. Or how Napoleon’s relative Archduke Maximilian of Austria was placed as ruler when loan payments ceased. I completely forgot how England and Spain turned tail and pulled out leaving the Mexican people on their own.

By the fourth carafe of my special lemon/cranberry vodka, I was ashamed of my lack of concern over the French encountering resistance at Loreto and Guadalupe. Lost were the memories of the 4,500 poorly armed men lead into battle by Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin and the near miraculous victory over the well-outfitted and highly trained French army of 6,500 soldiers.

The final sip of my final drink came with no regard to this glorious victory, which at the time helped to develop a needed sense of Mexican national unity. Was that insensitive of me? Well no, it’s not my heritage after all. Then again it’s not the heritage of most of those barely staggering about the streets at the end of the night.


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3 Responses to “Cinco de Moscow”

  1. Dom Manino
    05/05/09 at 9:27 am #

    Ha! Very clever way of pointing out the real meaning of the day. I had no idea. Now pass me my tequila!

  2. Maria D.
    05/05/09 at 12:24 pm #

    OK, I admit it. I thought this day was Mexican Independence Day. My Mexican grandfather would be ashamed.

  3. Mike Renziatti
    05/05/09 at 12:46 pm #

    I love the image of Lenin in a sombrero!!

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