Cinco de Mayo, or “the fifth of May” is a Mexican holiday which marks the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, which took place, you guessed it, on May 5 (1862). During the Franco-Mexican war, the French army—superior in size, equipment, and training—attempted to invade Mexico, yet the Mexicans successfully emerged from the battle at Puebla as victorious underdogs. While the French Army eventually regrouped and continued, taking over Mexico City, the original defeat of France by Mexico at Puebla is remembered as a victory against all odds. In North America, we might think of the day as all margaritas and brightly coloured decorations… there’s more to the holiday than we think.
1) It’s not that big of a deal in Mexico…
While Cinco de Mayo may be a big day in Puebla, where the battle took place, it’s not as big of a day in the rest of Mexico as one might think. In the 1940s, with the rise of the Chicana movement in the United States, the holiday became popular as a day of Mexican cultural pride. For Mexicans in America during the event, amidst the American Civil war dividing the country, the victory was celebrated as their own, giving the day more permanence for Mexican-Americans.
2) It isn’t Mexico’s independence day…
Mexico’s independence day occurred on September 16 1810 (many years prior to Cinco de Mayo), and in Mexico, is a much more important holiday. Many call Cinco de Mayo the Mexican St. Patrick’s Day (which isn’t surprising, given the similar mix-ups in significance and copious amounts of drinking parading as national pride…)
3) A day rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
4) Parades and parties
The world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration is in Los Angeles, California—the city with the highest concentration of people who are of Mexican-Origin—but you can find a great Cinco de Mayo party and parade in many major cities.
5) Ay, chihuahua!
If you’re looking for a more animal friendly way to celebrate the day than a Margarita, give Longmount, Colorado (USA) a try. The city is home to a Chihuahua beauty contest, crowning a king and queen chihuahua, and dishing out cash prizes.
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