You could probably make the argument that Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrated with greater significance in America than in Mexico. Certainly, in Mexico the holiday is at best celebrated only regionally with limited importance elsewhere in the country.
Yet throughout America on May 5th, Americans pack into Mexican restaurants, slurp down margaritas and devour pico de gallo by the bucketful. And it doesn’t seem to matter whether you have Mexican heritage or not; Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that is equally celebrated regardless of your ethnicity.
This raises the question: why do Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo with such fervor?
We think it has to do with America’s thriving spirit of expatriatism and celebration of its fluid ethnic background. Certainly, there are more American expatriates in Mexico than in any other country in the world, and Mexico’s influence on American culture runs far deeper than just a shared border. Mexican food and drink are beloved in America, particularly in the Southwest. And of course, Mexicans are the largest group today emigrating into America.
The holiday gives Americans of all colors a chance to celebrate the positive influences of Mexican culture (or at least, American perception of Mexican culture). But perhaps more astutely, Cinco de Mayo may also give Americans an opportunity to entertain their fantasies of expatriating to someplace more exotic.
Despite the sometimes ridiculous and inaccurate stereotypes that occasionally get played out on the holiday, we think that aspiring spirit of expatriatism is a healthy thing worth celebrating. So clang a glass and twist a lime and have a happy Cinco de Mayo!