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What is Cinco de Mayo?

Updated on June 24, 2014

The Mexican Sombrero *** Ole'

The sombrero is worn by the Mexican and Filipino cultures.  In English it is translated as a wide brim hat.  It is usually made of straw or felt and is a major icon of Mexican National celebrations.
The sombrero is worn by the Mexican and Filipino cultures. In English it is translated as a wide brim hat. It is usually made of straw or felt and is a major icon of Mexican National celebrations. | Source

The Mexican Celebration of the Victory in Puebla

Many people believe that this holiday is for celebrating the independence of Mexico from Spain. That is actually a falsehood. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican celebration for a victorious battle against the French, not the Spanish. The winning battle was held at Puebla, Mexico. It is celebrated in the United States, primarily in the south western part of the country (and Texas), as well as in Mexico. Because of the unexpected win, the Mexican people became proud and hopeful. Morale and patriotism were high, and nobody wanted to forget that feeling of success. So the holiday was established. Celebrations include parades, concerts, street festivals, and parties.

This Cinco De Mayo poster is still being displayed in Puebla, Mexico
This Cinco De Mayo poster is still being displayed in Puebla, Mexico | Source

Mexican Independence Day

The Mexicans actually celebrated their independence from Spain on September 16, 1810. Many Americans don’t know that, and assume the Cinco de Mayo celebration is the recognition of independence. Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared a call to arms for independence from Spain. As you can see, this date is over 50 years later than the Battle of Puebla; the battle victory that is recognized as a holiday, Cinco de Mayo.

Until 1861 Mexico was considered a Spanish colony. Just as American colonials became dissatisfied with the King of England and declared independence which started a Revolutionary war, Mexico did the same thing. The Mexicans were not interested in being governed by Spain and declared independence at the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) also known as El Grito de la Independencia (Cry for independence) in September 16, 1810. In fact, September 16th is to Mexico as July 4th is to the U.S.A.

Looks Like This Beluga Whale is Ready to Get His Groove on For Cinco de Mayo (Very Cute Video)

The Battle of Puebla

The Battle of Puebla began with a debt owed by Mexico to Spain, England and France. Spain and England were willing to make negotiations. France, led by Napoleon III, decided to take Mexico as collateral instead of working with them to repay their financial burden.

Late in 1861, some fifty plus years after Mexico’s declaration from Spain, the French Army infiltrated Mexico trying to capture Mexico City, the capital. Once the soldiers came upon the town of Puebla, Mexican militia gave them quite a surprise.

The unexpected victory over one of the world’s most powerful Armies boosted the morale of the Mexican troops as well as the Mexican people. They were encouraged and determined to fight for their country. Unfortunately, this feeling of power didn’t last long. Only after one year the French did capture Mexico City. Three years later, it was help from their neighbors, the United States that pushed the French out of Mexico. Today, Cinco de Mayo is primarily celebrated in Puebla, and the United States.

Cinco De Mayo U.S. Stamp
Cinco De Mayo U.S. Stamp | Source

This battle, and Cinco de Mayo, is considered relevant in Mexican history because of the sheer impossibility of a 4000 member militia defeating an 8000 organized European army; one of the most powerful armies in the world. The victory brought the entire country together; supporting one another and feeling a sense of national unity.

Puebla, Mexico

A markerPuebla, Mexico -
Puebla, Mexico
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The Battle of Puebla where Mexico was victorious defeating the French.

Cinco de Mayo Cuisine

Cinco de Mayo cuisine usually consists of the traditional Mexican food we all know well. It includes enchiladas, tacos, nachos, chimichangas, quesadillas and other delicious corn and flour tortilla dishes. Most entrees’ are served with fried beans and rice, and are often served con Queso (with cheese). So enjoy the festivities, and have a cerveza (Mexican beer)! If cerveza isn't your drink, there are always plenty of Margaritas for quenching your thirst, so pick your favorite tequila, do a Mexican hat dance, and celebrate!

Thank you for your interest in my writing. Your opinion is always important, so please feel free to leave a comment.

"Be kind to one another" ~ Ellen

God Bless You ~ Margaret Sullivan


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    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      It sounds like fun! South Florida usually has a big celebration as well.

      Thanks for your comment, FP!

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Margie - Here in Texas it's a big celebration. The celebration of a heritage that is unique.

      The Frog