What do YOU know about the origins and traditions of Cinco de Mayo? It's celebrated every year on May 5th and most people see it as the day of the year to celebrate Mexican culture, food and drink. You may be surprised when you find out the facts about this festive day and how it's celebrated in both Mexico and by its northerly neighbors.
1) Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Indepence Day
Mexican Independence is celebrated every year on September 16. On this date in 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called the people of Mexico to rise up against Spanish rule - 52 years BEFORE the Cinco de Mayo celebrations began.
2) Cinco de Mayo Celebrates a Mexican Military Victory
In 1862, a contingent of Mexican soldiers led by General Ignacio Zaragoa defeated a larger, better equipped, and better trained French military force. The victory was short-lived, as the French went on to capture both Puebla and Mexico City by the following month. However, the May 5th victory was symbolic and provided a morale boost that inspred Mexican pride and unity.
3) The World's Largest Cinco de Mayo Celebration Takes Place in Los Angeles
Cinco de Mayo is really more of a Mexican-American holiday than a Mexican one. The first celebrations took place in California in 1863 as a way to honor the brave Mexicans who fought so valiantly against the French in the battle in the city of Puebla at the Fort of Guadalupe. Keeping in mind that the United States was engaged in the Civil War at the time of the Battle of Puebla, we can see that a Mexican defeat of the French helped to keep them from becoming involved and supporting the Confederate Army. In Los Angeles, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with a huge street fair as well as smaller celebrations in different neighborhoods.
4) Cinco de Mayo Is Very Low Key In Mexico
It is a day off for students, but besides some parades and civic events, celebrations are generally low-key.