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Why Some Mexicans Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Six Degrees of Latinozation

By Published on . 13

Rochelle Newman-Carrasco Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
There were those who found my last holiday-themed blog linking Latinos to Valentine's Day to be lacking in "thought and research." For those of you seeking a scholarly dissertation with footnoted source material there is always Wikipedia.

Certainly there are things that one needs to take seriously, but there is so much more worth having a sense of humor about. Lightening up is good for the multicultural soul.

I plan to continue writing blogs that will undoubtedly get on some people's nerves. So sue me. Much to some people's horror, when the spirit moves me, I will also continue to play a game that I call Six Degrees of Latinozation. The objective of the game is to link Latinos with any other topic in as few steps as possible. The links have to be based in fact. No relying solely on opinion or resorting to fiction. In other words, you can't just make the stuff up.

Which brings me to my Six Degrees of Latinozation blog about Mexicans and St. Patrick's Day. The connection? Los San Patricios (aka, The St. Patrick's Battalion).

This is a part of U.S. history that doesn't get much coverage in the average American classroom. It was the focus of a passable Tom Berenger film called "One Man's Hero", which is worth renting.

The San Patricios were an army battalion in the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American war of 1846-48. The Irish potato famine of 1845 prompted hundreds of Irish immigrants to join the U.S. Army as a path to citizenship. The U.S. shipped many of these young Irish soldiers West to be field soldiers and defend "U.S. soil" after the annexation of Texas. Many of these Irish soldiers would face their Mexican "enemies" all week long. On Sunday, however, they would put down their guns and cross the border into Mexico to go to church and play soccer with their fellow Catholics, the very same Mexicans with whom they were at war.

Eventually, many of the Irish deserted and joined forces with Mexico. Those who did so before the war broke out were considered deserters. Those who fought for Mexico after the war broke out were defectors. When the war ended, each San Patricio was arrested and given a court martial trial. The deserters were branded on their faces with a "D." The defectors were hung in what some say is the largest mass execution in U.S. military history. To honor these brave men, whom Mexico calls heroes and the U.S. calls traitors, there are two celebrations held in parts of Mexico: Sept. 12, the anniversary of their execution, and March 17, St. Patrick's Day.

Famous Irish-Mexicans include Anthony Quinn, Vicente Fox and the creator of Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place, Peter Murietta.

"So, thanks for the history lesson Rochelle. But from a marketing perspective, what's your point? Are you suggesting that we use St. Patrick's Day to sell Latinos more beer?"

What I'm suggesting is that the Latino community is so diverse and has so much history that it behooves us to do more than scratch the surface when defining what makes a Latino a Latino or which culturally relevant stories are valid for creating compelling communications.

By connecting seemingly unconnected pieces of information, you create a dynamic that encourages innovation; and once released, who knows where the spirit of innovation will take you? Innovating in the multicultural space will only serve to make targeted marketing efforts richer and more three-dimensional. And if a few more cases of beer get sold in the process, that's fine too.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day and Viva Los San Patricios!
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