Cinco de Mayo: A tale of two holidays
As Americans pour tequila and bite into nachos during Cinco de Mayo celebrations across the country, let me just note that the celebrations south of the border, if any, are much more subdued.
While living in Mexico City, I realized that Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, where Mexicans defeated an invading French army, was only a minor holiday there. Even Mother’s Day feels like a much bigger deal there than Cinco de Mayo.
While the French were turned back on that day, they returned a year later and were successful in conquering Mexico, if only briefly. Some scholars believe had Mexicans not won that battle, though, that the French could have backed the Confederacy in America’s Civil War, perhaps resulting in a very different United States.
And, according to some historians, the battle featured a strong Texas contingent helping Mexico fight. In a 2012 American-Statesman article, Battle of the Medina Society president Dan Arellano wrote, “After the French were driven out of Mexico in 1867, the surviving Tejanos returned and started celebrations in South Texas.”
I guess if anyone is going to raise a glass, it might as well be Texans. If you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo, Austin has several events, including the ninth annual celebration at Fiesta Gardens on May 3, which is presented by Fiestas Patrias of Austin and features food and Tejano and Conjunto artists starting at 12:30 p.m.
Among the scheduled performers are Los Fantasmas del Valle, Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers and Johnny Degollado y su Conjunto. For a complete schedule and more information, visit cincodemayoaustin.com.
On May 5, Univision presents the seventh annual La Condesa Cinco de Mayo Downtown Block Party on West Second Street between Guadalupe and San Antonio streets from 5-9 p.m. La Condesa will feature food from its taco truck, El Cubico. The South Congress Hotel’s new ice cream truck, Stephen F. Frostin’ will debut at the block party.
Performers at the free family-friendly event include Gina Chavez, Cilantro Boombox, Bidi Bidi Banda, Mariachi Relampago, Celsius and DJ sets by uLovei and DJ Canoso. Fore more details, check out facebook.com/Cincoaustin.
Also, the Mexic-Arte Museum presents its Taste of Mexico culinary arts festival with Mexican-inspired food and beverage samplings on May 5 from 6-9 p.m. at Brazos Hall. The evening, which costs from $65-$75, helps support the museum’s arts education program. Food and drinks from more than 30 of Austin’s restaurants will be featured as well as music and art.
On May 4, Mexican culinary master Chef Daniel Ovadía will host a free cooking demonstration at 7:30 p.m. at El Mesón. He’s the author of “La Cocina de Daniel Ovadía: Historias y Recetas de Paxia” and the owner of several highly-acclaimed restaurants in Mexico.