Musings: Cinco de Mayo

Today’s topic is: “What are your Cinco de Mayo plans?”

Battle of Puebla, wikipedia.com

Are you like most Americans who believe that Cinco de Mayo is the Independence Day for Mexico? Well, it’s not; they celebrate that in mid-September. The fifth of May is a holiday that commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, where the Mexican army kicked some French rear. So why was this such a big deal? Well, Mexico was the underdog, and this victory, while not a major strategic win in the war against France, boosted morale and came to symbolize unity and patriotism for Mexico.

But why do Americans (both Latinos and non-Latinos alike) celebrate Cinco de Mayo today? Well, back in the 1860s, Napoleon was planning to use Mexico as a base from which to help the Confederates defeat the Union in the Civil War. Many historians believe that if Napoleon had backed the South, the destiny of the U.S. would have been much different. So, we celebrate that scrappy Mexican army’s victory because it’s the reason we live in “the United States” and why we aren’t speaking French today.

Personally, I think most folks just like an excuse to drink margaritas and eat large quantities of delicious Mexican food, sort of like how everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. My family will be celebrating with fresh guacamole.

 

Share your Cinco de Mayo plans in the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook

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