05 May 2010


Today is a day for celebrating Mexican heritage and pride. Cinco de Mayo is not, as some mistakenly think, Mexico's Independence Day -- that happens on September 16. Rather, the holiday comemorates the Mexican army's victory over occupying French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The battle did not end the war, but it marked a turning point in the resolve and cohesiveness of Mexican resistance to the occupation.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated primarily in the Mexican state of Puebla, and in the United States. I was exposed to Mexican/Latino culture (and Southwest Indian cultures as well) during my twenty years living in southern Arizona. Over the years I've experienced the holiday in other parts of the country, but nowhere is the celebration as colorful and meaningful as it is in the states bordering Mexico. Que fiesta !!

A note on the national flag of Mexico (see below) -- as currently interpreted, the field of green, white and red stands for hope, union, and the blood of heroes, respectively. The central emblem is the Aztec pictogram for Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), the hub of the Aztec Empire. An eagle holding a serpent in its talon, perches atop a prickly pear cactus which is situated on a rock or island rising from a lake. The image derives from an Aztec legend in which their gods told them where to found the city.

I miss my Latino/Latina friends. I miss hearing Spanish every day. I miss the vibrant mix of border cultures. I miss the Sonoran Desert. While Tucson has grown to the point of potential urban claustrophobia for me, I would still love to be living nearby. Until then .... Feliz Cinco de Mayo !!

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