You may have read by now that Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Mexico were called off due to the swine flu outbreak in the country. But before your jaws drop, let me reassure you — that doesn’t mean the sky is falling, despite some reports calling it the “biggest day on the Mexican calendar.”
I lived in rural Mexico for the first half of 2004, and when Cinco de Mayo rolled around, I was in for a sour surprise: the holiday marked in the U.S. by parades, mariachi bands and lots of margaritas was just another day on the calendar in the state of Oaxaca, (pronounced wa-HAH-ka) in southern Mexico. The folks we met and lived with down there told us the only part of the country that really makes a fuss is the state of Puebla, where the victory over the French army occurred in 1862. In fact, the big party is on Sept. 16, or Mexican Independence Day (Dia de la Independencia).
I guess a similar comparison in the U.S. would be if anniversary celebrations for the Battle of Gettysburg — viewed as the turning point of the Civil War for the North — were canceled across the nation. For Pennsylvania’s businesses and tourism industry, it’s a hit. But it’s not like canceling Christmas or the Fourth of July.