Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2022

Holidays and commemorations allow people to build community and express identity. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday commonly observed on May 5th which came into existence as a regional celebration, first in Puebla, Mexico, then later in the United States, where immigrant communities in the Southwest and California observed it as a holiday. “It commemorates the Mexican army’s surprise victory over the French army in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo became popular in the United States during the Chicano civil rights movement, or “El Movimiento,” in the 1960s. Its goal was to celebrate Mexican-American heritage and fight discrimination." (Newsela)

Inadvertently, this holiday has been frequently misinterpreted in the United States due to cultural appropriation, rather than cultural appreciation. Cultural appropriation is when a person or members of a majority group inappropriately adopt essential elements of a culture that does not belong to them in order to use it for profit or unfairly believe that all people with a particular characteristic are the same. Cinco de Mayo is not to be commercialized based on misinformation, prejudice, and stereotypes nor minimized to transitory articles such as oversized sombreros, mustaches, tacos, and piñatas. It is not Mexico’s Independence Day; that day is on September 16, 1810. Cultural appreciation is when a person makes a conscious effort to understand, learn, and explore another person’s culture with the intention to extend their perspective and connect with others cross-culturally.

It is our responsibility to change the narrative of Cinco de Mayo and teach our students the truth about the importance of holidays in people’s lives while valuing the authenticity of its culture. How do you celebrate the true and rich history of your culture, heritage, and community?

The NBPS Curriculum and Instruction Department wants to make learning purposeful and intentional as we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Please review the video and the resources below, to understand the history and the cultural importance of this holiday.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Questions to consider as you and your students engage in conversations rooted in cultural appreciation:

  • Are there any holidays specific to your city, state, town, or region?

  • Who or what does the holiday commemorate? When and how is the holiday celebrated?

  • What are some similarities and differences in how people and the community celebrate the holiday? Have there been any noted changes over time, why is that so?

Learning from and understanding people who think differently or have different experiences is part of the process of growth!

Curriculum and Instruction Department

Content Created by: Curriculum and Instruction Department