Latin music can be really fun. Profiles using Latin music can be really fun! And what better excuse for a fiesta Latina than Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of a victory over French forces in 1862. Contrary to popular belief, it is not Mexican Independence Day (which is in September). The defeat is significant because the Mexicans were poorly equipped and greatly outnumbered three to one by the French. It is believed that if the Mexican army had not defeated the French that day, the French had plans to establish a base from which to substantially aid the Confederate South in the American Civil War going on at the time. They also had other imperialistic plans, which fortunately did not come to fruition even though they did successfully defeat Mexico a year later and installed their own emperor. With the American Civil War over in 1865, the United States was able to come to Mexico’s aid and kick the French out. You can read about the history here.
Cinco de Mayo is more widely celebrated in the United States than it is in Mexico. The yearly celebration began in California in 1863, and spread to other Latino communities in the United States, popularized with the rise of the Chicano movement in the 1940s. And of course, in the late 20th century, some beer companies started capitalizing on the marketing opportunity, and you’ve got a major reason to celebrate (and sell beer and tequila)!
Here in the US, our history is very closely tied to Mexico. But if you live anywhere in the world, don’t be hesitant to offer a Cinco de Mayo celebration using the exciting musical options. Mexican culture is fascinating, and the colors of Mexico are green, red, and yellow, making for festive decor. Hang some streamers, get a sombrero, and have a fiesta!
Attached is a playlist of 83 songs that either are of Latin American origin (from Mexico, to all over South America, to Puerto Rico, etc.), or are about Mexico. A few involve drinking tequila or margaritas, because, well, that’s what tourists like to do on the beach in Mexico or at Cinco de Mayo parties!
You’ll notice I don’t have any Gypsy Kings songs in this playlist…that’s because they are from the Basque country of Spain, far away from Latin America. If you’re not as much of an obstinate historical snob as me, feel free to add them to your playlist if you want. After all, the Spanish did colonize Mexico 600 years ago, and they did retreat from coming after Mexico at the same time as the French pursued their attack on Pueblo in 1862!
Got any of your own additions to this playlist? Please add them in the comments below, and I’ll make sure to add them to the playlist for next year’s version.