Brownielocks and The 3 Bears
plus Cartoon Fun!
Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England. In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York.
This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico. But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.
The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise, and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.
The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as Sinko de Mayo!
Actually, Cinco de Mayo (The 5th of May) has nothing to do with mayonnaise or sinks. The above is simply a joke that's been going around the internet for several years now. And, our cartoon is just a silly play on the words as well.
So, how did Cinco de Mayo get to be celebrated?
Many people think that it's
Mexico's Independence Day (like our 4th of July); but, it is not.
(Note: Mexico's Independence day is September 16).
What Cinco de Mayo really celebrates is the Mexican victory over the French armies in the area of Mexico called Puebla (in the southern section, just East of Mexico City) in 1862.
Napoleon wanted to establish a permanent colony in Central America. Prince Maximilian (of Hapsburg) and his wife, Carolota were sent by Napoleon to permanently set up residence there and take over.
General Ignacio Zaragoza and Colonel Porfirio Diaz are the ones who defended the city of Pueblo successfully. They were basically out numbered 2 to 1, even though the French had the most modern fighting equipment of the day. Losing this battle, was a big blow to Napoleon's plans. And, Napoleon wasn't used to losing. In fact, the French hadn't lost a battle in 50 years. This was like David vs. Goliath in the bible.
During this time, the U.S. had its own issues going on with the Civil War. So, they weren't too interested in what Mexico was going through with the French soldiers on their turf. However, the United States did help the Mexican army. General Phil Sheridan sent Union soldiers to the border to supply the Mexican army with guns and ammunition to fight the French. (Napoleon didn't like the US at the time and we didn't like him either!) I might also add, that any solder who wanted help fight with the Mexicans against the French was instantly discharged with his uniform still on. Many did help. And, so the American Legion of Honor marched in the victory parade in Mexico City. Unfortunately, winning the Battle of Pueblo didn't instantly get the French out of Mexico. It wasn't until five years later, when Benito Juares finally removed the French completely from Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo was so important to the Mexicans, that even Mexicans living in the United States celebrated. As early as 1863 (one year later), Mexican residents in San Francisco began celebrating "la gloriosa fecha" (the glorious date) and have been ever since. In the San Francisco Bay area, Cinco de Mayo represents Mexican nationalism in a foreign land. The American flag is flown along side the Mexican flag too.
Many today think of Cinco de Mayo
as just a big drinking party. But, it really represents standing against
strong, invading forces, oppression of a culture and of personal freedom
in the lives of a country's citizens.
Today, the United States, rather than France, is considered the invader so-to-speak. And, recently other Latino cultures like the Puerto Ricans, Nicaraguans and other Central Americans, have joined with Mexico in celebrating their Cinco de Mayo observance when they feel that their cultures are being threatened too.
But, one can't really understand the observance in today's context without accepting that it really all comes down to a struggle for social justice and acceptance.
The term Mexican-American got replaced with Chicano in the twentieth century. Because of this, a lot of Mexicans felt that the very soul of their culture was crumbling around them. The Cinco de Mayo celebrations in American soon turned into an expression of the Mexican culture. To keep their heritage alive, during this observance they would have mariachi bands, dress in traditional clothing, and eat a lot of their cultural foods.
This was their way to embrace (not deny or forget) their past and the struggles of their ancestors also. And, it was a way to teach the next generation about the past as well.
There are others who also use this observance for political reasons, and so the "La Raza" movement developed. La Raza means "the race." In 1969, the Chicanos declared, "El Plan espiritual de Aztlan" in the Cinco de Mayo celebrations. And, a new pattern began to emerge in many Mexican neighborhoods across the United States.
During Cinco de Mayo they did not reenact the 1862 Battle of Puebla. Instead, they would speak out about La Raza's cultural way of life and their cultural contradictions and struggles for survival within the political and social environments of the United States.
Others will use this observance to think back and return to their spiritual beginnings. Many Mexican theatre groups will express the present lives and struggles of their Indigenous Gods. All of this is a way to help the Mexican people regain a new perspective on their future by looking back on their culture's past.
Cinco de Mayo is not an official holiday in the United States, although many towns observe it and have celebrations to celebrate it. Should it be an official holiday? Some feel it should while others do not.
RETURN TO OUR MAY OBSERVANCES.
"America Celebrates" by Hennig Cohen and Tristram
Visible Ink Press, Detroit, Michigan © 1991