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The U.S. celebrates Cinco de Mayo, but Mexico doesn't. Here's why

Thursday is May 5 — also known as Cinco de Mayo. Lots of people in the United States will use the occasion to drink Mexican beers or margaritas — often to excess.

But Minerva Orduño Rincón doesn’t see May 5 as a reason for a big celebration.

Orduño Rincón is a chef and a cooking instructor who focuses on Sonoran gastronomy. And she says when she was growing up, she learned about the Battle of Puebla, which is what today commemorates. But she says there were no parties and no special taco dishes.

The Show spoke with her to learn about Cinco de Mayo and how its festive nature came about.

Interview Highlights

What was it like to not celebrate Cinco de Mayo growing up or in college, but to see a lot of it when you came to ASU?

It was a shock, and it was also just ... this is probably one of those times where I would use the A-word, the appropriation word — appropriation of Mexican culture, Mexican things, without having any form of acknowledgement as to where the date comes from. Especially when you have people explaining to you that, "Isn't it Mexican Independence Day, and shouldn't you be celebrating?" And it's like, "Uh, no, it's actually not anywhere near close to Mexican Independence Day. But thank you for explaining that to me."

Do you see it now as maybe an opportunity to tell people about what Cinco de Mayo actually is?

I always actually use it as my opportunity to also explain things to people. And I think I'm actually carrying the torch — my mom's torch around, because she actually, years ago, called in. And my mom is not at all the, "Let me talk to your manager" type. But she called into the Detroit Free Press many years ago to correct some of the erroneous facts that they had put in about the 5th of May. And so she got bounced around between one person and another, up until they actually printed a correction to their story. So I like to tell people this holiday is really only of true significance to the state of Puebla in central Mexico. And it's because a much smaller, unprofessional kind of militia-type Mexican force was able to defeat a much larger, professional French army that was trying to invade the country of Mexico.

Are there days that you think would be better served to try to learn a little bit about Mexican history or even celebrate, to some extent, something significant happening country-wide there?

Yeah. I mean ... Sept.15 and 16 — Mexican Independence Day is on the 16th. But on the 15th, that's usually when the celebrations start. So for sure you could do the 16th, that's the actual Mexican Independence Day. Nov. 20, Día de la Revolución — Revolution Day. Either one of those would be a fantastic opportunity to try to learn a little bit more about Mexico and celebrate Mexican culture. I mean, you can also acknowledge and study things like the U.S.-Mexico conflicts that occurred. And you know, the times that the American government invaded, armed forces invaded Mexico. So there's quite a bit of ... things that need to be acknowledged — or could be acknowledged, rather than need to ... But I feel like examining any form of history, whether it's American history, Mexican history, the symbiotic relationship between the two countries, would be great. And there's absolutely nothing to say that you can't have a beer while you're doing it.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.