The first tattoo I ever got, which was completely forbidden in my family to do by the way, was the word “Chicana.” I got it in Guadalajara, Mexico, after a group of friends and I ditched the educational tour we were supposed to be on in order to check out the local scene of artesanía, restaurants, and the tattoo parlor where I received my very first ink. I have always prided myself on my identity as Mexican-American. So much so, that it was up to me to decide that I would learn how to speak, read, and write Spanish and learn about traditions that I did not grow up with.
Through my parents’ own life experiences, particularly in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and justifiably so, they would teach their five children only English after recounting their stories of the struggles of being Mexican-American only knowing how to speak Spanish in a conservative state that controlled where they would sit on a bus and which water fountain they would be allowed to drink from.
Cinco de Mayo has never been a day that I celebrated or commemorated but understand the symbolism of resiliency and determination despite the circumstances at the Battle of Puebla. It has been a beautiful cultural lesson that I used to teach when I was a high school Spanish teacher. It has also been a time for some great local margaritas which always seemed to be a prerequisite for the day in my local community.
Since becoming a mother, I find it crucial to create our own traditions. This year, we will likely be dancing in our kitchen to Trio Los Panchos as I did as a child and cooking some great Mexican food. And as my daughter becomes older, she will know her history as I do.