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My Journey and Approach to Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Latin Business Today Director of Community Relations, Tina Trevino with a traditional Mexican peasant dress—getting prepped for Cinco de Mayo.

I’m betting many of you are getting ready to paint the town red, white and green this Friday for Cinco de Mayo.

This typically includes partaking in tasty Mexican cuisine and drinks as well as maybe some dancing and plenty of socializing with friends and family (which I will be doing as well).

It is the day that we celebrate and recognize the Mexican army’s victory at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th 1862 when their underdog army of approximately 4000 soldiers defeated a formidable French army double the size of the Mexican troops.

It was an incredibly inspirational event to the Mexican people since the rest of the world had expected a quick French takeover.

My very abridged history lesson

Aside from my very abridged history lesson that I am reminded of every year, the holiday also serves as personal inspiration to recall how I have learned to embrace my heritage.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t always proud to talk about or admit to my culture with schoolmates and outsiders growing up. I found it to be a bit of a stigma as a child being in a community of mostly white people except for the extended family of my mom and dad that lived close by.

I felt a bit out of place in my school in the mid ‘70’s being one of only 2 Latino children growing up in my elementary and middle school—diversity did not exist in this small farm-country community. I did not have a desire to learn or speak the Spanish language because it would just make me stand out even more—it was already enough that my skin color was so different than everyone else’s.

It wasn’t until I reached high school that I started to see Latino and African American kids enter our school district mostly because of the consolidation of General Motors factories bringing more urban families from the Detroit area to my town.

At home things were totally different, my parents made us proud of who we were as a culture and always shared our Mexican traditions with my close friends so that it would help to instill a sense of understanding about our background.

My friends who did, got to experience all of the authentic parts of my Mexican heritage like cooking and eating Mexican foods, making and breaking piñatas, learning to speak Spanish words and phrases, listening to my dad play Tejano music on his accordian, learning songs and dances, etc. really enjoyed those experiences.

They always bring up those fun moments from our childhood whenever we get together and catch up.

My college cultural expenience

Once I made my way to college, being Mexican American did not have the stigma that I had previously attached to it.

College was filled with every kind of ethnicity I could imagine. I blended right in with everyone.

As I’ve grown older and learned that blending in is not necessarily a desired goal—that it does pay to stand out in a crowd, I’ve absolutely embraced my heritage.

I like the strong Mexican American woman I’ve become who likes to share the same traditions that her parents passed on to her. I’ve also become exposed to so many more people, experiences, cultures—I’ve grown comfortable in my own darker toned Mexican American skin you could say.

I have absolutely embraced my own background and love everything that comes with it.

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo also reminds us that our heritage is filled with some of the most iconic events and objects like the Battle of Puebla or Remember The Alamo—highly celebrated holidays like El Dia de Los Muertos and Cinco de Mayo--- fashion like sombreros, huaraches, the Puebla dress, serapes---flavors like chiles, tortillas, carnitas, molé---music like mariachis and Tejano ---decorations like piñatas and papel picados---the list goes on and on of the many things that have become so mainstream to American culture that we sometimes forget the origins.

Traditional Ballet Folklorico Dress at NYBG Event

So in the spirit of the day, and with the pride of my Mexican culture, my Cinco de Mayo holiday this year will include sporting a traditional Puebla dress for my festivities on Friday after work. If you want to see how you can rock some traditional Mexican fashion, check in with me on Latin Business Today’s Facebook or Instagram page.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo y Viva Mexico!!!

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