Cinco de Mayo translates into party time for Americans

Published 5:10 pm Thursday, May 4, 2006

Cinco de Mayo, literally the fifth of May, conjures images of chips and salsa, colorful streamers, Mexican flags and parties.

For local Tex-Mex fans, any time is a good reason to set out chips and queso. But could it be Americans lift their margaritas high each May while locals from Mexico don’t?

But several local Hispanics say they remember some school activities associated with the day, but not many family gatherings.

Could this be the equivalence to St. Patrick’s Day, a church-based affair in Ireland that we Americans have transformed into a “wearin’ of the green,” “Kiss me, I’m Irish” pub crawl.

Cinco de Mayo is not the time Mexico celebrates independence from Spain, that’s in September, when the Mexican Heritage Society celebrates a city-wide fiesta. The fifth of May commemorates a victory over France’s military and is timed at a natural spot to welcome colorful outdoor parades to welcome spring.

“It’s just an American holiday. They don’t have a big holiday,” Remi Bryan of La Suprema restaurant in Nederland said.

Her grandfather and great grandparents were born in Mexico, and she said she’d never heard of any major goings on, but that doesn’t stop the restaurant for being extra popular the first week of May.

“We do have a special, five tacos for 5 dollars, because it’s the fifth of May,” she said.

Last year the staff had special holiday shirts made. This year, she again expects festive, green margaritas to be a popular sell.

To confirmed what she recalled, Bryan checked with employee Monica Martinez, who was born in Mexico City. Martinez laughed, and tried to think way back to the last time she recalled a big Cinco de May event. A school program vaguely formed in her memory.

Sabrina Vrooman and Louis Alvarez of Port Arthur said they didn’t have established memories of season. No piñatas, no speeches in the square, no dances.

“In Mexico, we don’t celebrate that way,” Alvarez said.

Obdulia Guzman translated for her mother, Maria Hernandez, at Taqueria Garcia on Gulfway Drive. As men ate bowls of menudo for breakfast, the women shook their heads when asked about early Cinco de Mayo memories. Hernandez was born in Mexico, where it’s a “small world,” she said, but her childhood memories of celebrations centered around other holidays.

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