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Rant #328
(published May 3, 2007)
Happy Quatro de Mayo!
by David Erik Nelson
Quatro de Mayo is a national holiday, observed in Mexico and parts of the United States, celebrating Mexican independence from Chinese rule.

In 1368 Ming the Merciless unified China and overthrew the Yuan Dynasty, taking control of all of the Yuan land holdings, including an inconsequential Chinese colony in North America. As the 14th century drew to a close, the colony steadily filled with freewheeling Spaniards who allied with the Chinese Mayan colonists and began to lay out the rudimentary framework of "New Spain" (later re-christened "Old Mexico.") These New Spaniards (or "Old Mexicans") bridled under Ming's oppressive piñata taxes.

Despite the many impressive achievements of the Ming Dynasty — including movable type, a one million man standing army, and naval explorations circumnavigating the globe — their most notable commodity, the piñata, was actually a holdover from the previous Mongolian Yuan Dynasty. On important civil and religious festival days, the officers of the feudal Mongol government would fill the severed, glowing heads of political dissidents and rivals with candy. The heads would then sing, curse and recite ribald puns in Mandarin, Cantonese and vulgate Barghu-Buryat while being beaten by children wielding sticks. This was followed by a parade, then further beatings if the heads regained consciousness. To this day the popular belief in China is that the first piñatas were made by the famed Mongol chieftain Kublai Kahn. This has since been demonstrated to be a myth. Much like noodles and pizza, it was Marco Polo who first brought the Hispano-Sephardic craft of piñata-forging to the Chinese.

Ultimately the indefatigable New Spaniards refused to recognize the predatory piñata taxes. Shortly thereafter New Spain become a sovereign nation when the Emperor Zhu Di inadvertently granted them independence in 1424.

Traditional Quatro de Mayo activities include dragon parades, piñata beatings, vilifying the Chinese and eating egg rolls (called burrititos in Old Mexico and piñatas cruncheras or microchimicangas in much of the United States.)

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