Cinco de Mayo Celebrates Battle of Puebla

CHARLOTTE-- The manager of Charlotte restaraunt, Three Amigos, Nelly Aules said the customers started packing in at about 11 a.m. Thursday.

"We have fun, we have drink specials and food. We try to educate a little bit what it means for Cinco De Mayo," said Aules.

It's not about Mexican Independence, a holiday that falls in September. Cinco de Mayo is actually the anniversary of a the Battle of Puebla.

"May 5th, 1862, when a Mexican army of about 2,000 people defeated a much larger invading army from France of almost 6,000 people," says professor of Latin American Studies at UNC Charlotte, Jurgem Buchenau.

Even though it won the battle, Mexico lost the war. So Cinco de Mayo isn't celebrated in Mexico, just in the town of Puebla.  

"Not really, the kids have the day off from school, but it's not a national holiday," said Buchenau.

He added the holiday really developed in the US.

"Mexican-Americans do celebrate it and of course its also used for non-Mexicans to stereotype Mexico."

Mexican beer goes on special, and the restaurants fill up and the sombreros come out.

"I would explain it the same way I would explain 'blackface,' said Buchenau. "‘When people try to act black, in doing so they demean the culture. Most Mexicans do not in fact wear sombreros in everyday life so for non-Mexicans and non-Chicanos to wear them is stereotyping."

A tense political climate surrounds this year's Cinco de Mayo.

"Americans want to have it both ways, on the one hand, when they can celebrate diversity they like to do that, but when the diversity becomes annoying to them, then they like to get rid of it."

But Buchanau says you can still celebrate occasion tastefully.

"There are many ways you can do that, you can go to a Latino supermarket, you can buy genuine Mexican food, if you want you can go out to a Mexican restaurant"

Just leave your sombrero and fake mustache at home. 

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