DOWNEY - For some people, Cinco de Mayo is just another day on the calendar and an excuse to indulge in delicious food, but for others it's a day where people come together and celebrate their heritage.Though its roots lie in the surprise victory of the Batalla de Puebla over the French in 1862, many Americans have taken this day to celebrate the Mexican culture in their families or community. While one would think this holiday would be celebrated heavily in Mexico, its popularity is greater in America. "It seems to have more importance in the U.S. than it does in Mexico," said Downey High student Andrew Vega. "To my family it's just another day…I don't think students have any idea what it means." A lot of confusion lies within the Cinco de Mayo holiday, as many falsely associate it with Mexico's Independence Day. The holiday is marked to celebrate the unity between Mexico and America, an aspect that is important to those who celebrate, especially in California. "The holiday was highlighted by Mexicans living in California who supported liberty and independence," said Downey resident Gema Quezada. "It's amazing how many people come with pride in their hearts and interact together, bonding over this one commonality." Restaurants are a popular destination on Cinco de Mayo, where many of Downey's local and neighboring establishments will without a doubt be the place to be to celebrate the holiday. Many people are expected on Cinco de Mayo to come in and celebrate their heritage, something that restaurant employees fully enjoy watching. "I work at El Pescador in Carson…we try to make Cinco De Mayo as enjoyable as possible for our customers," said Downey resident Andrea Ortiz. "Just like the NBA playoff games, people just want to come in and enjoy a glass of a beer or the finest Mexican tequila, so the restaurant prepares for the special day. Personally, I feel overjoyed to see people happy and excited to celebrate and share Mexican pride." Overall, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo is a day where everyone can come together to enjoy a delicious meal and celebrate with family and friends. In a time where so many things can get in the way of celebrating, Cinco de Mayo is a day where everything else can be put aside and come together to celebrate culture. "The best part of working in a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo is to see the Mexican community celebrate their culture's freedom and sharing it together while enjoying the food, drinks, and live entertainment because it is a very special day," said Downey resident Irma Ortiz. "I think it is important for people to know why Mexican culture celebrate Cinco de Mayo because it is as important to us as Fourth of July is to the United States."
********** Published: May 5, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 3