Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!

You're probably asking yourself, what is Cinco de Mayo? Well, it's a holiday celebrated in both the United States and in Mexico on May 5, Cinco de Mayo literally meaning "May 5th" in Spanish.

Both countries celebrate the holiday rather differently. In the US, the day is seen as a celebration of Mexican-American culture. In fact, it's often mistakenly seen as the Mexican Independence Day, but that's not accurate. The actual Mexican Independence Day is September 16th, which celebrates the Cry of Dolores, the event that triggered Mexico's fight for independence from Spain.

The American version of Cinco de Mayo is believed to have started in 1863, among Mexican miners in California. They were overjoyed that their home nation was standing up to the French Empire, that they broke into spontaneous celebration. The American Cinco de Mayo would mainly be celebrated in California up into the 1940s, when the rising Chicano Movement would help spread it to the rest of the United States. In the 1980s, many marketing firms, especially beer companies, sensed the celebratory nature of the holiday and used it to promote various products. This would help make the holiday much more popular in the US, and further evolve it into the modern celebration of Mexican-American culture it is.

In Mexico, it's a minor holiday. There, it's the day where the Mexican Army, led by Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated the French Army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In 1860, the Mexican Civil War, aka the Reform War, had ended. The war had wrecked Mexico economically. As a result, then-President Benito Juarez had been forced to suspend payments of interest on foreign debts for a couple of years, which angered Spain, Great Britain, and France. The three countries formed the Tripartite Alliance, the goal to basically invade Mexico and force them to make the payments.

The three nations would invade in 1861, occupying the port city of Veracruz, and marching to the city of Orizaba. Mexico was able to negotiate with Britain and Spain, and the two countries withdrew from Mexico. But France, under Napoleon III at the time, wanted a war. France wanted to rule Mexico. France wanted to make Mexico part of its empire.

At the Battle of Puebla, 4,000 Mexican Army soldiers stood up against 6,500 Frenchmen. The French were much better-equipped than the Mexicans, but the Mexicans managed to defeat the French. 87 Mexicans died in the battle, 131 got wounded, and 12 went missing. They managed to capture 35 Frenchmen, wound 304, and kill 476. The Battle was a big political victory for Mexico. It was a big morale boost for the people and defenders of Mexico.

In 1862, Juarez had declared May 5th a national holiday in Mexico, where it's called "Battle of Puebla Day" or "The Battle of Cinco de Mayo". It's mainly celebrated in Puebla City, where the battle occurred, with limited celebrations throughout the rest of Mexico.

And that is Cinco de Mayo. I hope you have a wonderful day!

No comments:

Post a Comment