So this is a Cubs blog and you all know that I love the Cubs more than just about anything this side of my family and closest friends, but I have a confession to make: On Cinco de Mayo each year I always watch a baseball game on the South Side because the White Sox do this celebration much better than the Cubs and it is not particularly close.
First, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. It commemorates an important military victory in 1862. It’s also not a particularly important day in Mexico, the celebrations really began with Mexicanos living in California and the American West. Almost no one partying on Cinco de Mayo is celebrating General Zaragoza, or even knows his name, it’s all about identity as you can see from this piece in US News and World Report:
That didn’t happen, of course. In the years that followed, Latinos in California and the U.S. Northwest celebrated Cinco de Mayo with parades of people dressed in Civil War uniforms, giving speeches about how the Battle of Puebla fits into the larger narrative of the struggle for abolition.
Since then, the holiday has been transformed, specifically after a wave of Mexican immigration into the United States following the Mexican Civil War. As Mexican immigrants flooded into the American southwest, they joined in the festivities with their fellow Mexican-Americans who were already living in the United States without really knowing the story behind the holiday, and over time the date came to be a showcase of Mexican ethnic identity rather than a celebration of the battle against the invading French forces.
On a normal Cinco de Mayo I’d be finishing up my work day as fast as possible to get to the ballpark formerly known as the Cell for one of my favorite baseball days. The White Sox do this party right and as a bonus you get baseball - what more do you want? Each year for Cinco de Mayo the White Sox have one of the best giveaways in baseball: A Los White Sox soccer jersey, you can see what the 2020 jersey would have looked like below:
It’s not just the jersey giveaway, although the fact that they order 15,000 of them and you can choose between medium or extra large is another bonus to going to games on the South Side. There are mariachi bands and dancers on the field for the pre-game, it’s just a blast. Plus there are all the things you can get any game day on the South Side that you can’t get at Wrigley: tamales, elotes and Modelo stands that have salt and limes for your beer.
Don’t get me wrong, the Cubs have tried to step up their game for Hispanic Heritage night around Mexican Independence Day in September. I’m a pretty big fan of this Los Cubs hat from 2019:
But Hispanic Heritage really doesn’t get celebrated as much on the North Side. A quick Google search of the Cubs and Cinco de Mayo resulted in this article with the five biggest Cubs Cinco de Mayo moments (spoiler alert: none of these moments have anything to do with Mexicano culture or players) and a throw back to 2016 when Joe Maddon had a mariachi band perform in the clubhouse.
Cubs fans celebrating Cinco de Mayo have pretty much always had to do that on their own, and I’ll be doing that today. While it’s a few months early for Día de los Muertos gear, I was absolutely enthralled with the new Cubs FOCO limited edition bobblehead released today:
They are only releasing 2,020 and you can order yours here. I’ll be honest, I planned to buy one before they reached out to see if I’d share it in today’s entry in exchange for a free one.
As you can probably guess, I’m a sucker for anything Cubs and Mexicano.
I’ve also already ordered my margaritas, chips and salsa for later tonight as I finish up the outstanding Netflix series Gentefied. It’s a timely show about cousins trying to save their grandfather’s taco shop in a gentrifying neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Tell us how you’re celebrating in the comments. Oh, and a pro-tip, whether you’re watching Gentefied or something else tonight, order your food direct from the restaurant if possible. Block Club Chicago did a pretty great job explaining the hit small restaurants are taking from third party delivery apps like GrubHub yesterday.