Authentic Mexican food, music and decorations filled Weter Hall on Saturday night during the Spanish and Latino Student Awareness Club’s annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.
The event, attended by roughly 200 students, faculty and staff, was focused on promoting Latino culture and giving attendees a chance to gather as a community to experience a traditional Mexican holiday.
“Cinco de Mayo is a family-oriented event,” said Rubi Diaz, S.A.L.S.A. club president. “It’s the whole family coming together to honor heritage, and that’s what we wanted to show here.”
During the event, club members served attendees food and encouraged them to participate in traditional Mexican dances.
The food consisted of Mexican rice, refried beans, carne asada and other Mexican dishes. Attendees were also served churros and horchata, a sweet milky drink made from almonds or rice.
“We always run out of the food first,” Diaz said. “My own mom made the salsa… I think everyone appreciates that it’s all mostly homemade.”
Cinco de Mayo, a celebration centered in the United States and Mexico, originated in the Mexican state of Puebla as a way to commemorate Mexico’s victory over French troops during a battle in 1862.
Though a celebration of independence, Cinco de Mayo doesn’t celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain, which occurred on Sept. 16. Recognized annually, Cinco de Mayo is meant as way to honor Mexican heritage and encourage national pride.
“Our mission as a club is to really promote Latino culture on campus and allow students to enjoy a different set of traditions within that culture,” Diaz said. “It’s great to see everyone taking advantage of that opportunity here.”
After eating, attendees were encouraged to dance to traditional Mexican music. Played mainly by a mariachi band, most music sets included songs with violins, trumpets and a 12-stringed Mexican guitar, called a vihuela. Mariachi music sets included traditional Mexican songs such as “El Son de la Mariquita,” “Puno de Tierra,” “El toro Viejo” and “Caminos de Michoacan.” Other entertainment included dancers, two piñatas and another band performing Banda, a popular Mexican music style featuring bass drums and woodwind instruments.
The Cinco de Mayo event followed previous events put on by S.A.L.S.A. such as Noche de Salsa and Salsa Y Amor, both focused on teaching students and faculty and staff basic salsa dance techniques. Sophomore Ashley Pineda, a S.A.L.S.A. club member, said she appreciates how welcoming to all ethnicities the club is and encourages other students to attend future events.
“It’s a great place to learn about Hispanic culture overall,” Pineda said. “The club does a great job at including everyone.”
Freshman Lydia Chaffee said she appreciated the variety of entertainment and food that the event included.
“It really allows everyone to experience the culture,” Chaffee said. “All of the different kind of music and food shows how much time they put into it.”