Word of the Week – Hoopla

Widespread derision greeted Donald Trump’s choice of a taco bowl lunch to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, as if, we, the cognoscenti could look in satisfied scorn on such a reduction of our rich Mexican-American heritage. I asked a couple of my fellow Texans what they thought the celebration was about. Mexican independence was the vague response. No details.

My very worldly Mexican-American friend explained that no, in Mexico, Mexican independence from Spain is celebrated in September. Cinco de Mayo is the date of a relatively obscure event, a victory over the French in the town of Puebla. The people in Puebla remember, but in the rest of Mexico, not so much.

In the U.S., some Californians of Mexican descent always celebrated the date, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the national remembrance was encouraged by – the beer industry, of course!

How about those other Hallmark Holidays: Secretary’s Day, Grandparents’ Day? They’re  widely dismissed as purely commercial hoopla. But a conscious publicity campaign to create a national holiday to celebrate beer? Sounds like fun. With a thin veneer of Mexican history and a taco bowl for lunch, it might even be politically correct.

“Hoopla” is defined as excitement around an event, connoting an unnecessary fuss. The best I could find was from Online Etymology Dictionary, www.etymonline.com, citing the earlier use of “houp-la,” as an exclamation accompanying quick movement, a word of unknown origin. I like the suggestion that it comes to us from the French, “houp-la” for “upsy daisy,” which is another great word, an extension of baby talk that’s been with us since the 17th century.