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Cinco de Mayo And Its History

Updated on April 23, 2012

Do You Know Cinco de Mayo's History?

There are a wide variety of different holidays that are celebrated throughout the world and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. Individuals that reside within the United States of America and Mexico have the opportunity to celebrate this holiday on the 5th of May. The history of Cinco de Mayo is extensive as there are a variety of historical events that have occurred to bring this holiday forth. As per a variety of different studies, the widespread popularity of Cinco de Mayo has been a tradition for a copious amount of years.

The majority of people that are known to celebrate Cinco de Mayo reside within Mexico within the state of Puebla. Unlike the United States, Cinco de Mayo is titled El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla which has the English translation of “The Day of the Battle of Puebla.” The main purpose behind El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla is to remember and commemorate all of the individuals who were participants within the Mexican army during the time when Mexico was to go to war with the French battalion on the 5th of May 1862. Whereas within the United States, Cinco de Mayo is a day where individuals celebrate the democracy and freedom of those during the first few years of the American Civil War. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day which is a completely different holiday that falls on the 16th of September.

As previously mentioned the Cinco de Mayo history resides within the historical war efforts that were experienced prior to the 5th of May. Starting with the occupation of Mexico by the French after the American/Mexican war, the Reform Wars, and the Mexican Civil War. After the conclusion of the aforementioned wars, the Mexican Treasury was inevitably left bankrupt and the country was nearly at its financial demise. In response, Benito Juarez (the president of Mexico) issued a statement that said all foreign debts were going to be repaid two years later than they had originally anticipated. Although this may have proven to be beneficial for Mexico, it was not beneficial to those who they owed money to. Spain, Britain, and France all began to send their naval forces to Veracruz in order to acquire the payment that they required. Spain and Britain had both attempted to negotiate with Mexico but to no avail but France refused to withdraw as easily as their two allies did. Instead, Napoleon III saw this as a beneficial opportunity to acquire Mexico to begin his entry into a Latin empire. Thus bringing forth the French Invasion.

Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo | Source

As per his desire, Napoleon III pushed his troops into Veracruz in order to acquire the territory and inevitably forced Benito Juarez and his army into retreat. Once this territory had been conquered, the French troops then made their way to Mexico City where they finally met their match. Although the Mexican army barely consisted of 4000 troops and the French had over 8000 troops, the Mexican army had defeated the French army on the 5th of May, 1862. Considering that the Mexican army was considered as the underdogs during this battle, the win undoubtably helped to enlighten the spirits of the country and the individuals within the armed forces. With this win, the patriotism and national unity increased immensely.

Although the celebrations were immense, they were unable to continue for an extended period of time. Once Napoleon III had received word that his troops had been defeated by the smaller scaled and less experienced Mexican army he became outraged. Within a limited amount of time he had already constructed a reason as to why he should send over more troops and so they were determined to invade Mexico once again. After a grand total of 30, 000 troops had been sent overseas, Mexico had finally fallen and the French took over the area and appointed Maximilian as the president of Mexico.

In present day, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in an extremely different fashion compared to when the battle was first won. With the implementation of a variety of different parades, rides, foods, and other exciting events, individuals throughout the United States and Mexico are provided with the opportunity to participate in Cinco de Mayo and all that it has to offer. One of the most interesting aspects of the celebrations is the Cinco de Mayo food considering that it consists of a variety of different traditional meals ranging from beans and rice to extravagant platters of meat and vegetables. With the implementation of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, every person is able to enjoy and rejoice about the success that was had by the Mexican army.

As previously mentioned, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated all over the world and so with its world wide success there are also a variety of different festivals that are held in different countries. As an example, there is a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta that is held within Portland, Oregon and it is one of the most renowned Cinco de Mayo festivals throughout the United States. With the opportunity to take rides on over a dozen carnival attractions and to indulge in cultural and traditional foods, there is undoubtably an activity that can prove to be beneficial for any individual within your family.

As previously mentioned Cinco de Mayo is a world wide celebrated tradition that helps to instill pride and unity throughout the Mexican population and even those who are of American descent. With the ability to partake in a variety of activities, indulge in Cinco de Mayo food, and celebrate with an abundance of individuals, the celebrations are immense. Although the Cinco de Mayo history was beneficial yet short lived, having the opportunity for an entire nation to partake in a common celebration can prove to be beneficial. Much like Independence Day in America, Mexico is provided with the opportunity to commemorate those who fought in the war and to rejoice about the fact that they had defeated the French army.

Cinco de Mayo in Denver
Cinco de Mayo in Denver | Source


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  • algarveview profile image

    Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

    Hi, Adrienne, very interesting hub, especially because in movies we often hear about the 5 de Mayo, but I actually didn't know what it meant or how it was celebrated. Very interesting to find out! Voted up, useful and interesting and sharing! Have a great day!

  • cvanthul profile image

    Cristina Vanthul 5 years ago from Florida

    Chock full of information! Well done.

  • Snurre profile image

    Snurre 5 years ago

    Very interesting article. I didn't know anything about cinco de Mayo and this was most enlightening. Voted up and interesting.