Feliz Cinco de Mayo! It’s a holiday where everyone celebrates Mexican culture, but what exactly is Cinco de Mayo? Before you start to party with tamales and tequila, here are 5 things you need to know.
It’s time to celebrate because it’s Cinco de Mayo! The day after “May the 4th” is a very important day in Mexico’s history, but have you’ve ever asked, “what is Cinco de May really all about?” Well, take a moment to discover some important facts about today.
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1. Cinco de Mayo honors an important day in Mexican history…
May 5th marks the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla against the invading French army in 1862, according to NBC News. “The significance…is that it represents Mexican resistance to foreign intervention,” said, Raul Ramos, Associate Professor of History at the University of Houston. “But it was not a struggle for independence. Instead it represented a struggle against imperialism.”
2. …but it’s NOT Mexico’s Independence day.
Mexico, who had won its independence from Spain in 1821, had defaulted on its foreign debt to several European countries. So, France decided to invade and the Mexican army rallied to hold back one of “the best [armies] in the world at the time,” according to Professor Margarita Sánchez of Wagner College. By the way, Mexico’s actual independence day is September 16. Keep that in mind while you enjoy these Cinco de Mayo drinks.
3. It’s celebrated more in the U.S. than in Mexico.
Mexican-American activists raised awareness of this battle in the 1960s, according to History.com, since they identified with the victory of native Mexicans over European invaders. Over the years, it’s become more of a celebration of Mexican culture in the U.S., with large festivals taking place in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. In Mexico, the holiday is only a big deal in Puebla.
4. Cinco de Mayo may be more American than people think.
“Cinco de Mayo is a tradition dating from the Civil War,” according to David Hayes Bautista, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles, per Huffington Post. When Latinos living California heard that the French lost the battle, “it electrified the population,” according to David, leading many to join the Union army to fight the Confederacy.
5. In fact, a Cinco de Mayo hero was from Texas!
If you’re going to have a bottle of tequila at your Cinco de Mayo party, be sure to have a couple Lone Star beers as well, because the hero of the Battle of Puebla is a Tejano. General Ignacio Zaragoza, who led the ragtag Mexican army to victory, was born in what is now Goliad, Texas. “It gives you a sense that our countries have had a shared history going back hundreds of years,” professor Ramos said. Amazing!
Are you excited to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, HollywoodLifers?