Why is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated? Here’s the History Behind It

Why Do We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

why-do-we-celebrate-cinco-de-mayo-1200x800.jpg

Many Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but have little idea about what the holiday actually means. Despite what people believe, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day. (Mexican independence is celebrated on September 16th.) Cinco de Mayo is a traditional holiday celebrated on May 5th to commemorate the Mexican army's victory over the French Empire, which occurred on May 5th, 1862. This was called the Battle of Puebla during the French-Mexican War.

Here's the story. Mexico had been suffering from financial ruin, which was exploited by the French President Napoleon III, who came up with the idea to build an empire there. At this time Mexico was building massive debt with Britain and Spain. But luckily, these countries were able to negotiate a solution.

In late 1861 the French invaded Mexico with well-armed forces, forcing the Mexican government to retreat into northern Mexico. The French, confident of more victories, focused their next attack on the city Puebla de Los Angeles. But Mexican President Benito Juarez sensed their arrival and gathered a group of 2,000 men to fight back. Many of these soldiers were made up of indigenous Mexicans or mixed ancestry. The Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862 lasted from daybreak to early evening with the French retreating after losing almost 500 soldiers. The Mexicans lost less than 100. Although it was very unlikely that Mexico would win, they came out on top.

In the United States, we usually celebrate Cinco de Mayo with margaritas, parades, mariachi music, colorful beads, and other Mexican-themed foods and cocktails. 

 In fact, Cinco de Mayo is actually celebrated more in the United States than it is in Mexico. The city of Puebla celebrates it—because that’s where the battle took place—but it isn't a nationwide holiday in Mexico. In the 1960s, Latino activists actually raised awareness for the holiday.

Nonetheless, the Battle of Puebla remains a source of great pride, and Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage around the globe.

Related: 7 Cities to Visit This Summer (Because You Can’t Afford to Go to the Bahamas)

 

Null

More Articles

When to Reach Out for Mental Health Help
When to Reach Out for Mental Health Help
By Arminda Roddy in Student Life, Health
The transition from high school to college can be a scary time for many students. the stress of so many changes at once can lead to feelings of needing mental health help. Don't be afraid to reach out if you find yourself needing help.
Read Article
How to Take Advantage of College Student Discounts
How to Take Advantage of College Student Discounts
By Sydney Grant in Student Life, Money
Who doesn't love a discount? Especially as a college student trying to save money. Check out these six tips for taking advantage of discounts for college students.
Read Article
What is a Juice Cleanse? 6 Things to Know Before Starting One
What is a Juice Cleanse? 6 Things to Know Before Starting One
By Diana Santacruz in Health
Considering a juice cleanse? Do your research first. Check out these six tips to know before following through.
Read Article
Things to Do at the Beginning of the School Year to Get Involved
Things to Do at the Beginning of the School Year to Get Involved
By Amanda Keaton in Student Life
College is a great opportunity o make friends and get involved on campus. Check out these suggestions for getting involved the beginning of a new school year.
Read Article