How did you celebrate the 5th of May, or as it’s more commonly known, Cinco de Mayo? Did you attend a party, go out to a Mexican restaurant or perhaps fill a pinata full of candy for the kids? As it becomes increasingly popular to celebrate this holiday throughout the U.S. regardless of one’s ethnic background, many people mistakenly believe May 5th is Mexican Independence day. In actuality, Mexican Independence day falls on September 16th. So what is the significance of Cinco de Mayo?
In 1861, Mexico was invaded by several foreign powers, including England, France and Spain, all looking to establish dominance. By 1862, the Spanish and English had withdrawn, but the French remained. Though poorly armed, Mexican troops defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Even though the French were not fully driven out for five more years, that battle became a representation of Mexican resistance to foreign domination. Despite the symbolic significance of the victory, however, for many years it was only observed locally in the state of Puebla rather than country-wide. To this day, Cinco de Mayo is not recognized as a national holiday in Mexico.
Interestingly enough, it was Mexican immigrants living in the United States who elevated the status of the Cinco de Mayo observance. To Mexican-Americans, Cinco de Mayo has come to represent a day in which they celebrate and take pride in their heritage. Because Latinos are the largest minority in the United States, accounting for more than 57 million residents, their influence on and contributions to American culture can be felt in almost every part of the country.
Guest blogger, Jacqui Keady, is a freelance writer and lifelong reader of mystery and romance novels. She lives in Folsom, California with her husband of nearly 30 years and two beloved dogs.