Today is widely known in the US as Cinco de Mayo. It is a holiday many celebrate by eating tacos and drinking tequila. But there are a few things you might not know about Cinco de Mayo.
The Largest Celebration is in the US
It may surprise you to hear that Cinco de Mayo is more widely celebrated in the United States than in Mexico. People of many ethnicities and backgrounds celebrate this holiday in the US. Cinco de Mayo first gained popularity in the United States during the 60s. It was at that time that Chicanos (Americans of Mexican descent) decided that they wanted a holiday to celebrate their heritage and culture. Cinco de Mayo perfectly represented the spirit of being Latino. As widely celebrated Cinco de Mayo is in the United States, you may find it interesting that in Mexico, celebrations are mostly concentrated in one city: Puebla. This is due to the origin of the Cinco de Mayo holiday, which you can explore below.
The Holiday is Named for the Date it Occurs
Rooted in a significant historic event that took place in Puebla, Mexico, Cinco de Mayo carries the name of the date when the original event took place and is observed annually. Literally called Fifth of May, this holiday takes place on May 5th. Very creative, right? The US has a pretty famous holiday also known by its date. Also known as Independence Day, July 4th also bears the name of the date when it is celebrated.
Originated in 1862, After a Mexican Civil War
While the United States was in the midst of their own Civil War, Mexico was facing its own battles. Having defaulted on loans to England, Spain, and France, Mexico faced an invasion as its creditors attempted to recuperate some sort of payment. England and Spain soon arrived at agreements with Mexico, but Napoleon of France wanted to add Mexico to his ever-expanding empire. During their war against France, Mexico had a huge victory at the Battle of Puebla.
The Holiday Celebrates Victory at Puebla
The Mexican Victory at Puebla was truly what could be deemed a miracle. The French army in 1862 was a force to be reckoned with that had already conquered a few countries. They had many troops. The Mexican army was outnumbered by the French army. For every Mexican soldier, there were 2 French soldiers. The odds were not in the Mexicans’ favor. Despite being the underdog of this fight, the soldiers in Puebla defeated the French army on May 5th in 1862. This victory is celebrated yearly in Puebla.
Mexico Won the Battle, but Lost the War
Despite the overwhelming victory at the battle of Puebla, the Mexican army was just no match for the French militia. France may have lost the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but they went on to occupy most of Mexico up until 1866. It was at that time that Napoleon decided to withdraw his troops to focus on his European conquests. Maximilian decided to keep trying to maintain the occupation of Mexico, but a year later surrendered at Querétaro.