At dawn on May 5, 1861 the Mexican army fought the Battle of Puebla against a much stronger, better equipped French army who wanted control of the territory. The conflict only lasted for the day and Mexico won. However, a year later France took over the country and ruled the three years following.
Today in Mexico Cinco de May is basically May 5th. In the state of Puebla there will be a small ceremony in the capitol. In the U.S. we have parades, parties, and picnics all over the country. I think Cinco de Mayo celebrations are growing in Mexico because Americans have promoted it.
Until I Googled, I thought Cinco de Mayo carried a significant reason to celebrate, like the 4th of July. However, in comparison to the 300 year struggle for independence from Spain and the war with the U.S. where they lost two-thirds of their original territory, the Battle of Puebla was like a street fight.
So, why the fuss over such a minor battle Mexico won for a short time, but ultimately lost? In the 1950s and 1960s evidently civil rights activists tried to build harmony between the U.S. and Mexico. But in all honesty in the ‘80s I think beer companies and restaurants thought May 5th was a perfect excuse to commercialize and celebrate. It has spread and gown to the point where the U.S. commemorates a Mexican one-day battle with the French. Figure that out.
In my opinion, we Americans use any excuse to celebrate. If you think about it, paying tribute to a skirmish 250 years ago, celebrating Cinco de Mayo is no stranger than celebrating a ground hog. Besides, Cinco de Mayo is so much fun to say, like you really know Spanish. I think I’ll wear my Cancun shirt today and enjoy chips and salsa.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!