This past Sunday marked the unofficial beginning of the summer party season. While Saint Patrick’s Day is a storied “drinking holiday” celebrated with a mix of garish costumes, themed drinks, raucous singing, and general cross-cultural reverie, its timing on the calendar tends to dampen the scale and reach of the associated partying. Falling in mid-March, the holiday comes at varying times for the diverse communities across the country. Boston, which is known for its significant Irish-American population and history of large-scale “Saint Paddy’s” parades,  can still find itself in the throes of winter during this time of year. For example, last year’s Boston Marathon runners experienced some of the worst weather in the history of the mid-April event.  With northern Nevada’s famously bizarre weather, the conditions for Saint Patrick’s Day in Reno or Carson City could be worlds apart from the mild forecast likely to prevail in Las Vegas during March.
So if the launch of the party circuit is not Saint Patrick’s Day, than what is? Answer: Cinco de Mayo, or the Fifth of May in Spanish. This Mexico-connected holiday shares much in common with its emerald-green counterpart: many revelers dress up, enjoy a margarita or Mexican-style beer, sample ranchera music or other regionally appropriate genres, and generally celebrate all things Mexican. (On the dressing-up point: the power dynamics between people of Mexican heritage and the larger society are currently such that outfits trafficking heavily in offensive stereotypes are ill-advised.) But what are the origins of this holiday, and why can its timing increase the risk of injury?
Cinco de Mayo is a much bigger deal in the United States than it is in Mexico. The holiday has caught on as a cultural fixture in broader American culture despite its modest role in the traditions of its supposed mother country. The holiday commemorates the Battle of Puebla, a conflict between Mexican troops under General Ignacio Zaragoza and a contingent of invading French soldiers. The battle took place in Puebla, not far from the Mexican capital city.  Why were the French invading Mexico? This history is often overlooked for many U.S. students, but it must be noted that Mexico in the nineteenth century represented a vast landholding and a major foothold in the emergent markets of the Western Hemisphere. At the same time, France was grappling with the aftermath of Napoleon Bonaparte’s failed French Empire.  The French had already had an earlier skirmish with Mexico,  and in 1862 – with the backing of Britain and Spain, which were also miffed with the Mexican government’s unilateral decision to withhold interest payments on loans the three European nations had granted it – France tried again.  General Zaragoza’s troops beat back the larger and better-equipped French forces, boosting morale and instilling pride. But the French ultimately prevailed and enjoyed a short period with a puppet monarchy installed in Mexico. 
Celebrations of the holiday are thought to have originated in the California gold country, but the holiday gained increasing prominence from the racial-equality movements of the mid-twentieth century and aggressive marketing by beer companies and other financial interests. Some years, beer sales around Cinco de Mayo outpace those of both the Super Bowl and Saint Patrick’s Day.  This convergence of annual celebration and alcohol consumption has led some to adopt an informal name for the holiday: Cinco de Drinko.
Of course, this same convergence is also a recipe for increased injuries. Because Cinco de Mayo happens at a time when many Americans are itching to celebrate warm weather, pool parties are popular ways to celebrate when the conditions permit. One study found that at least 30 percent – and as much as twice as large of a share – of drowning victims have alcohol in their systems at the time of death. Alcohol is also a factor in a significant share of drowning accidents.  Alcohol impairs our judgment, increasing the likelihood that we – or those around us – will make a poor or dangerous choice or take on (or simply overlook) an unreasonable risk. Of course, one common example of such a risk is the choice to drive after consuming too much alcohol. An alcohol-impaired driver has slower reaction speed and worse muscle coordination, which can combine with the above-mentioned lack of good judgment to make a motor vehicle crash much more likely.  While new laws, more aggressive enforcement, and gradually growing social awareness and taboos around drunk driving have led to an overall decline in the frequency and number of alcohol-involved traffic fatalities over the last 30-plus years, it is still the case that some 3,000 lives are lost each month in drunk driving accidents across the country. 
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to the negligence or intentional wrongdoing of another, make sure to seek legal guidance before it is too late. Personal injury lawsuits, like most legal actions, are subject to a statute of limitations. It is not always as simple as filing your lawsuit by the deadline – an experienced personal injury lawyer will know to examine and analyze the case before agreeing to take it, making some judgments about the likelihood and scale of a potential monetary recovery. It is in the interest of both client and attorney to begin this process as early as possible to conduct a preliminary investigation and maximize the likelihood of winning vindication of the injured party’s rights.