A friend, who teaches a Spanish course, asked me to send my photos of the Venice, California Cinco de Mayo parade. She wanted students to think about its history and how it is celebrated present-day, minus its more commercial associations with drinking Coronas at parties.
Photos from Venice, CA Cinco de Mayo Parade 2019
The photos below display the holiday’s 1862 history and its connection to Mexican heritage and past/present-day American culture. Following the photos, I've included a text excerpt from David E. Hayes-Bautista's book, El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition that briefly discusses the history but also what he envisions of future celebrations of the holiday.
From History to Future Celebrations
Book: El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition by David E. Hayes-Bautista (2012):160
“This book was written to answer the question of why the Cinco de Mayo is so widely celebrated in the United States yet receives only perfunctory notice in Mexico. The answer is that it is not a Mexican holiday inexplicably adapted by Latinos in the United States despite its undeniable commercialization in the late twentieth century, a fake holiday recently invented by beverage companies. Rather, it is a genuine American holiday, spontaneously created during the Civil War by ordinary Latinos living in California—soon echoed by others in Nevada and Oregon—as an expression of their support for freedom and democracy throughout the Americas. Far from being foreign or un-American, it originated in a devoted adherence to these basic American political values by the majority of Latinos in the United States, as well as Mexico and other republics in the Western Hemisphere, at a time when those values were under attack from within and without. It should be remembered that from the beginning, Cinco de Mayo parades have flown the U.S. and Mexican flags side by side as symbolic of this fact. That tradition is still followed today, although the reasons are largely forgotten.”
“It is interesting to speculate about what form future celebrations of the holiday might take, should its true origins and heritage become better understood. Naturally, the blatantly commercial aspects will not disappear; by now, virtually no American holiday has escaped some degree of commercialization. But future celebrations might also include Californio mission-era songs, dances, and costumes; uniformed Civil War reenactments featuring the Native California Cavalry and the unofficial Latino militias; images of Abraham Lincoln, Benito Juárez, and Ignacio Zaragoza; and of course liberal displays of American and Mexican flags side by side…”
Hayes-Bautista, a researcher in epidemiology and demography of Latinos in California, has written this book about the holiday using population-based data sets, Spanish-language newspapers, and other research from 1850 (when California became a state) to 2010.
It seems what Hayes-Bautista had imagined in future celebrations has come to fruition in the Venice Cinco de Mayo parade with Mexican and American flags flown together and even a costumed Abraham Lincoln on a float.