Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday celebrated on the fifth of May. Cinco de Mayo is, of course, associated with going out and having a few drinks for many people in the United States (margaritas, to be specific).
Cinco de Mayo is a great excuse to go out and have a good time, but there’s a lot of history behind it that many people don’t know about. For the past 150 years, it’s been a celebration of Mexican ancestry and culture, thanks to a fight waged in Mexico.
Learn more about Cinco de Mayo’s history and the Cinco de Mayo customs you may participate in this year by following the links in this section.
What is Cinco de Mayo?
In 1862, the Mexican army unexpectedly defeated the French in a fight that became known as the Battle of Cinco de Mayo, thus the celebration of Cinco de Mayo on May 5. In 2022, it will fall on a Thursday because it is currently commemorated on May 5, which is on a Thursday every year. In the next several years, it will fall at the following times:
2023: The 5th of May
May 5, 2024: Sunday, May 5, 2024
On Monday, May 5, 2025, the year of our Lord 2025
The Reason Behind Celebration Of Cinco De Mayo?
Franco-British-Spanish forces swooped in when Mexico failed to make good on its debt obligations. Napoleon III, on the other hand, had a different goal in mind—
to conquer France and establish a French ruler. On May 5, 1862, 6,000 French forces fought 2,000 Mexicans in Puebla, even though Britain and Spain refused to intervene. Mexico came out on top in this one.
“Cinco de Mayo” became a rallying cry for the resistance to the French occupation when Napoleon III returned with additional troops and placed Arch Duke Maximillian as the new ruler. It was a way for them to stay focused on their goal of recovering the nation and preserving their culture.
When Archduke Maximillian was ousted in 1867, Mexico finally gained its independence. That following year, he was put to death.
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Cinco de Mayo: Fiesta Fun!
During Cinco de Mayo celebrations, you may hear about them. Even though Cinco de Mayo (which translates to the fifth of May) originated in Mexico, the celebration is more popular in the United States!
Is there a significance to Cinco de Mayo? 6,000 French troops stormed the Mexican city of Heróica Puebla de Zaragoza on May 5, 1862, to retake it from the Mexicans and establish French rule. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the Mexican troops battled valiantly. The French had retreated by the time the sunset.
To commemorate the city’s victory, the residents of Puebla, Mexico, will celebrate Cinco de Mayo on May 5. In the United States, the holiday is also extensively observed. To commemorate both the war and Mexican culture, Americans have a holiday to honor both.
People in the United States celebrate Mexican Independence Day by attending parades, listening to mariachi music, and eating guacamole made from avocados.
The Running of the Chihuahuas is held in Washington, D.C. when Chihuahuas (a Mexican breed) race one other for enjoyment. Even though Cinco de Mayo falls on the fifth of May, it’s still a lot of fun.
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In what country is Cinco de Mayo celebrated?
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, despite what many people believe. May 5th is known as Cinco de Mayo in Mexico because it marks the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. Mexican Independence Day,
or Da de la Independencia, is observed on September 16 and honors the date on which Roman Catholic priest Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla made his famous “Grito de Dolores” address in support of Mexico’s bid for independence from Spain. Before the Battle of Puebla, he gave this speech in 1810. Hispanic Heritage Month happens to coincide with Mexico’s Independence Day.
First Cinco de Mayo festivities in California are thought to have taken place!
History suggests that the earliest Cinco de Mayo festivities were conducted in California by Mexican-Americans during the American Civil War.
According to a Time article on how to commemorate Cinco de Mayo in a historically authentic manner, these were not really “celebrations” but rather political rallies staged to raise support for Mexico during the Franco-Mexican War.
Because of the Good Neighbor Policy, Americans are more likely to celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States
Even though President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy, aimed at boosting ties with Latin American countries, was implemented in 1933, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo only truly took hold in the first third of the twentieth century.
According to José Alamillo, a professor of ethnic studies at Washington State University, “Cinco de Mayo’s objective was to operate as a bridge” between the United States and Mexican cultures” (as reported by National Geographic). In the 1960s, Mexican-Americans began to embrace it as a way to strengthen their sense of self-worth.
Cinco de Mayo served as a marketing opportunity for beer makers!
During the 1970s and 1980s, beer firms gave the “Good Neighbor Policy” a huge push, which helped make Cinco de Mayo a big deal in the US. To appeal to the Hispanic market, companies like Corona launched Cinco de Mayo-themed marketing efforts, which included company-sponsored celebrations of the holiday.