Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo, which literally means May 5th in Spanish, is a day that is celebrated in primarily the United States and Mexico. This day, which is often erroneously confused with Mexican Independence, commemorates the victory of the Mexican army against French forces during the Battle of Puebla on this day in 1862.
Before you can understand the holiday, first you have to understand the significance of the defeat of French forces at Puebla. This victory on the fifth of May, 1862 gave Mexican forces a significant morale boost since the French army was much bigger and better equipped then they were. However, it was only a temporary boost and the French army eventually prevailed in later battles.
Even so, it did mark the end of European aggression in the Americas by military force. An interesting thing to note is that while the holiday is generally popular in Mexico, it it even more popular in the United States and has been celebrated nonstop since before the Civil War. It originally started in California when Mexican miners in the State threw spontaneous celebrations when the heard of the Battle Of Puebla.
During the 1940s it would spread throughout the rest of the country during the Mexican Civil Rights Movement and the Chicano Movement of the 1960s. On June 7th, 2005, an official resolution of Congress was passed to call on the President to issue a decree to the American people to celebrate the holiday. As of today, there are over 21 U.S. States with official Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
Customs And Celebrations
Mexican Customs-This holiday is almost as important as Mexican Independence in Mexico, so it is celebrated with much fanfare. The best place in the country, as you would suspect, to take part in the festivities is in the city of Puebla, but communities all over the country have celebrations that include huge meals and lots of fireworks.
U.S. Customs-In the United States, this holiday is very important. It is most often celebrated with parades that feature mariachi players and Baile Folklorico demonstrations that include dancers in colorful clothing. Another widely-upheld tradition is for friends and families to visit Mexican restaurants and indulge in margaritas and Mexican food.