Timing, possibly. The US has had significant waves of immigration from lots of countries, and there is a very long list of foreign holidays that immigrants could have brought with them. Most get celebrated just locally, or by the community concerned, and no doubt many fade away after a generation or so. A few become firmly established and spread outside the community that brought them.
What determines which ones get firmly established? I suspect timing is part of it. Weather-wise, early May is a pleasant time to have a holiday in most parts of the US, and there’s a gap between Easter and Memorial Day. Mexican Independence Day might have become established instead except that it’s very close to Labour Day.
Italy doesn’t have a major national holiday. Liberation Day and Republic Day are both national holidays in Italy but (a) they’re modern, and (b) I don’t think there’s anywhere where they are the biggest holiday. In Italy the big heritage holiday is always local, the feast of some local saint or patron, celebrated (obviously) on different days in different places. In the US I think Columbus Day serves as a de facto Italian heritage day, to some extent, but it’s not observed in Italy at all
It used to be more about mass and parades but nowadays it is not all that distinguishable from its American iteration. It’s a national holiday, not everyone decides to drink but plenty of people do, especially tourists and teenagers. IIRC for much of the 20th century it was illegal to sell alcohol on St Patrick’s Day here and that the law was only changed with the tourist dollar/pound/mark in mind.
I celebrate Cinco de Mayo, by having Mexican food (and a margarita, when I’m not pregnant). I am not an immigrant of any kind, nor were any of my grandparents. I just like Mexican food, and come from ancestors who were from places that are not known for their food.
Marketing doesn’t hurt, either. Can’t have hurt the popularity of Cinco de Mayo that beer companies and Mexican restaurants promote it (and, of course, they benefit from doing so, too).
Being a holiday on the civil calendar, so that it happens every year on the same date (or close to it, the way a holiday like Thanksgiving or Mothers Day does) helps, too. A lot of people celebrate Chinese New Year in California, including some people with no Asian ancestry, but people who aren’t Chinese tend not to have much awareness of the Chinese calendar. I suspect Chinese New Year would be more popular if it were on a fixed date in the civil calendar. Some Chinese restaurants outside of California do stuff for Chinese New Year.
If you can wait till sunset, you can celebrate the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer. It’s traditionally associated with bonfires and outdoor sports, so some beer probably wouldn’t be too badly out of place.
Mexican-Americans picked Cinco de Mayo, although it is not a holiday throughout Mexico. They chose that day to show pride in their culture; perhaps *Diez Y Seis de Septiembre *was considered too political. Other Americans may take part–because of their appreciation of Mexican culture or their desire to drink a bunch of beer & tequila. In many ways its evolution does resemble that of St Patrick’s Day.
I didn’t celebrate this year because I wasn’t feeling like a crowd. And, in Houston, I can get tequila & Mexican food any time.
Porfirio Diaz’s long reign as President may have played a role but he was not the true hero of the First Battle of Puebla. That was Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin–who died of typhoid shortly thereafter. He was born in what became Goliad, Texas & was related to *Tejano *patriot Juan Seguin.
It’s an day to have fun and celebrate our friends to the south. What’s not to understand?
For example - The company caf did Mexican food yesterday, of course, but they also did stuff like have Mexican desserts and a big tub of ice filled with bottles of Mexican Coke and Sprite. It was an excuse to do something fun and outside of the ordinary routine.
As for why cinco de mayo as opposed to some other holiday? I dunno, but I got the message from somewhere that May 5 was a great day to party out Mexican-style. The only logical response to that is “Cool! Cerveza por favor?”