There are a variety of misconceptions that surround the Mexican holiday Cinco De Mayo. Americans have continuously misunderstood what Cinco De Mayo actually is. If you find yourself this May wanting to celebrate this holiday here are a few culturally respectful ways to decorate and celebrate Cinco De Mayo.
Understand What Cinco De Mayo Is
Contrary to what most people know Cinco De Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, that is the September 16th or Dieciseis de Septiembre. Cinco De Mayo is when an outnumbered Mexican Army defeated French imperial invaders in 1862. Now that may seem like a big deal, and it definitely was, the holiday isn’t actually celebrated in Mexico. Chicano activists in the 1950s helped popularize the holiday as a way to promote and educate Mexican culture and it eventually became the misconstrued holiday it is today. Although if you truly want to celebrate a major Mexican holiday consider celebrating Dieciseis de Septiembre instead because that is the actual equivalent of our Fourth of July.
Cultural Appreciation vs Appropriation
Nobody wants to have or attend a culturally insensitive party. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco De Mayo without being disrespectful to the Mexican culture.
If you have a sombrero, mustache and poncho that you were planning to wear on Cinco De Mayo, please take those off. You also should not incorporate these in your Cinco De Mayo decorations. They are harmful stereotypes of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. If you aren’t Mexican posting a photo of you in a sombrero can and will rub people the wrong way. I can not stress enough that culture is not a costume so please be respectful and discourage your guests from showing up wearing anything insensitive. Also avoid sugar skulls, Cinco De Mayo is not Diá de los Muertos.
Instead consider having your Cinco De Mayo decorations made up of colorful pieces. For instant grab a brightly colored table cloth that isn’t a serape blanket, brightly colored plates and create a beautiful centerpiece using dahlia pinnatas which are the national flower of Mexico. Cinco De Mayo is not a day to dress up but if you feel the need wear brightly colored clothing to pay homage to the rich, beautifully colorful Mexican culture.
Blast That Reggaeton!
Being mindful of the cultural significance in Mexican traditions doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to listen to traditional mariachi music. Instead you can stream modern Mexican-American and Mexican artists who are, in my opinion, making incredible music. Artists like Becky G, Adriel Favela, Santana and of course Selena are just a few of the artists you can blast during your party. Remember, anything for Selenas!
Support Your Local Mexican Restaurants
The majority of Mexican restaurant chains in America have significantly watered down authentic cuisine. Rather than rely on chains a quick Google search will tell you of Mexican-American owned restaurants. These restaurants will give you a much more authentic eating experience. Getting take out from somewhere like that will not only give your party a leg up but it’s also incredibly important to support locally owned shops. If you’re unsure about how to make the proper Mexican dishes for Cinco De Mayo having it catered or having take out will help ease the stress out of cooking and will give you more time to enjoy the actual party.
It isn’t that hard to throw a culturally respectful party with Cinco De Mayo decorations that won’t offend Mexicans or Mexican-Americans. By following these tips and Cinco De Mayo decorations recommendations your party will surely impress your friends through your knowledge and authenticity.