Bienvenido! Do, you know what Cinco de Mayo stands for or better yet what it represents? Most Americans use this Mexican holiday to drink get wasted and eat Mexican food. But, to be quit frank they have no earthly idea what it means to our Mexican heritage. I’m going to give you a quick history lesson for those of you who have no idea. So, grab a seat and maybe a cerveza and prepare to have you mind blown.
During the French-Mexican War (1861-1867), an outnumbered Mexican army defeats a powerful invading French force at the small town of Puebla de Los Angeles. The retreat of the French troops at the Battle of Puebla represented a great moral victory for the people of Mexico, symbolizing the country’s ability to defend its sovereignty against a powerful foreign nation.
Battle of Puebla and Cinco de Mayo
Though not a major strategic victory in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s victory at Puebla galvanized Mexican resistance, and six years later France withdrew. Later that same year, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed as emperor of Mexico by Napoleon in 1864, was captured and executed by a firing squad.
Puebla de Los Angeles, the site of Zaragoza’s historic victory, was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza in honor of the general. Today, Mexicans (and Mexican Americans) celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla as Cinco de Mayo, a holiday in the state of Puebla.
- In case your Spanish is *muy rusty*. Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for the fifth of May.
- The holiday celebrates an unexpected victory. The holiday actually celebrates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Mexican army won the battle despite being smaller and ill-equipped.
- Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. That occurred 50 years prior to the Battle of Puebla. It is celebrated on September 16.
- Cinco de Mayo is a bigger deal in the United States. In Mexico, the day is observed with political speeches and battle reenactments. Many of the actual celebration and battle re-enactment take place in Puebla.
- In fact, the world’s largest Cinco celebration takes place in Los Angeles. This year’s Festival de Fiesta Broadway is expected to draw 300,000 people. Cities like New York City, Denver and Houston also throw large parties in honor of the day.
- Chandler, Arizona, even celebrates the day. There are Chihuahua races and even crowning two of the dogs king and queen.
- Cinco de Mayo is even a popular name for a song. Musical artists like War, Senses Fail and Liz Phair all have songs titled after the holiday.
- Americans consume up to 81 million avocados on Cinco de Mayo , according to the California Avocado Commission. The creamy food is used for guacamole, a popular Mexican dish.