What does Cinco de Mayo mean to you?
There is a common misconception that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day—but that’s far from the truth. Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French that occurred on May 5, 1852 at the Battle of Puebla. The battle was against 6000 Frenchman—Mexico had 2000 Mexican soldiers consisting of Indigenous Mexicans and mixed ancestry who fought until their victory.
Although Cinco de Mayo is greatly celebrated in the United States and across Mexican American households, Cinco de May is rarely celebrated in Mexico. The state of Puebla is primarily where celebrations occur in Mexico—celebrations include recreations of the Battle of Puebla, military parades, and festivals. However, many tend to treat it as any other day, and is not considered a federal holiday in Mexico.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is interpreted as a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture among Mexican American population. In the 1960s, Chicano activists raised awareness for the holiday and recognized the victory for Indigenous Mexicans.
Today, many Mexican Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo with parades, parties, Mexican folk dancing, and traditional food—some of the largest Cinco de Mayo festivals can be found in Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, recognize the rich history of the Mexican culture and discover its importance to the Indigenous Mexican community.
Here are a few ways to celebrate the Battle of Puebla:
- Explore traditional Mexican recipes, such as mole and tacos, to share with your family and friends.
- Visit your local library and read about the History of Mexico and its Indigenous population.
- Learn how to make Mexico’s official drink, a Paloma, and celebrate with your loved ones.
Learn more about Mexico’s history and the Battle of Puebla by visiting History.com.
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