If you have any Mexican friends, you might want to wish them a happy Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) on Wednesday. It is often thought of, incorrectly, as Mexico’s independence day, and has been co-opted commercially by beer companies, often with little more than a nod to its roots in Mexican history other than their food and music.
The festival actually dates back to May 5, 1862 when, against enormous odds, Mexican fighters under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla. France later briefly occupied Mexico, but the earlier conflict became a source of pride for Mexicans and a symbol for their standing up against colonial aggression. Many in Mexico today are trying to get beyond the commercialization of the day, and to recover the roots of Cinco de Mayo in anticolonial resistance, civil rights and social justice.
While we might hope that they retain the tacos and burritos, the music and dancing, we honour their desire to lift up their cultural heritage, and, with so many vulnerable people globally, take a stand for civil rights and social justice.
Revs. Bob and Helen Smith
A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, May 1, 2021, edition of Tidbits.