Cinco de Mayo has become a big deal in the United States, especially during the last decade or so, but there is a lot of ignorance surrounding the reason for celebrating. If you were to ask the average American on the street the reason for celebrating Cinco de Mayo, the answers would invariably be either "It's Mexico's Independence Day" or that May fifth sounds cooler in Spanish so someone turned it into a holiday. Cute, but not true! Mexico's Independence Day is actually September 16th, and although Cinco de Mayo does sound catchy, the origin of the celebration is not as well known, at least to Americans.
The holiday actually originated as a celebration of an unlikely win by the Mexicans over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The French went on to trounce the Mexicans afterwards, but that battle became a point of Mexican pride, especially to those who live in the region near Puebla.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become something of a big deal. In a way, it's the Mexican equivalent of St. Paddy's Day in terms of the revelry and events of the day. It's a celebration of ethnic roots and a culture that continues to have a considerable impact on the U.S., particularly in the southwestern states. Over seventeen percent of the U.S. population claims Mexican heritage!
So while you're sipping your Dos Equis and stuffing your sombrero-capped face with delicious tacos, enchiladas, and burritos, reflect on the original reason for celebrating Cinco de Mayo! And while you're at it, check out fellow travel-blogger and Mexican citizen Raphael's post "5 Myths and Facts to Marvel You" regarding the holiday.
Do you or have you celebrated Cinco de Mayo?