What do you think of when you hear the words Cinco de Mayo? Some of you may think oh, Cinco de Mayo is the Spanish term for guacamole and margaritas! Well, not exactly. For those of you who may have forgotten all that high school Spanish, in English, Cinco de Mayo translates to mean the Fifth of May. So, what’s the deal with the Fifth of May? What’s the significance of a holiday named after a date? It must be a pretty important date, right? To get you ready for the ultimate day to celebrate and party, fiesta-style, here are all the quick facts you need to know about Cinco de Mayo!
Let’s start with the obvious--and then the not so obvious. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated (obviously) on the Fifth of May. What may not be so apparent to the masses is WHY Cinco de Mayo exists. Many folks are under the impression that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day. (If you thought that, too--you are not alone!) Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day; in fact, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September the 16th. Cinco de Mayo marks the date of a significant battle victory that happened many years ago in Mexican history. Let’s take a look-back.
The short version of Cinco de Mayo history goes something like this. Back in 1862, Mexico was deeply in debt. The Mexican president at that time made it known that the country’s debtors were not getting paid--at least not anytime soon. France, feeling very opportunistic, decided that since Mexico was a vulnerable target, they would send their elite and grand army to invade and take them over. The Mexican troops at that time were small and honestly, they were pretty ill equipped. The one thing that the French army didn’t count on, however, was the heart and will of these resilient Mexican people.
On the 5th day of May 1862, the illustrious French army invaded the Mexican state of Puebla. In spite of the fact that the Mexican army was a bit scrappy, had fewer members (not to mention weapons), and were considered the underdogs, somehow, miraculously, this strong group of Mexican fighters defeated the French army in Puebla that day. You can certainly see why people wanted to celebrate.
Interesting enough--Cinco de Mayo evolved into a holiday that is far more of an event in the United States than it is outside of Puebla, Mexico. Most popular amongst Mexican American populations, Cinco de Mayo is now a fabulous day to celebrate Mexican heritage and culture with parades, fiestas, Mariachi music, dancing, Chihuahua races and of course lots and lots of Mexican food and beverages.
So what are you waiting for? Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner…so gather your amigos and prepare to have a grand ol’ fiesta, south of the border style. Ole!