The origins of Cinco de Mayo

I’m sure everyone’s heard of the celebrated Cinco de Mayo. In grade school, you might’ve had culturally themed parties. And as you get older, you’ll probably continue having themed shindigs. What does it mean though?

Cinco de Mayo observes the 1862 victory of Mexico over France. The Battle of Puebla is an important part of Mexican history and pride. The underdog Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, fought against the French persecution and army and reigned victorious.

 Though Mexicans certainly remember it, this day has become more of an American holiday. It’s on the fifth of May that we celebrate Mexican culture and heritage.

 There was a huge push for Cinco de Mayo awareness in the 1960s in Mexican-American communities. Since then, it’s grown into an occasion of national-holiday standards. Come May 5, there will be parties, mariachi music, cultural dancing, parades and various foods to memorialize the nation. To truly experience our nation’s celebration of Mexican culture, visit Houston, Chicago or Los Angeles as large festivals are held.

The United States even went as far as having a resolution issued by the U.S. Congress in 2007. It calls for the President of the United States to issue a statement encouraging citizens to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with related events and festivities.

 As for the Mexicans, they heavily observe Cinco de Mayo in Puebla—the state of their victory against France. Much like Americans reenact Civil War battles like Gettysburg; Mexicans reenact their battle on the streets of Puebla. It’s also known as El Dia de la Batella de Puebla. It’s not considered a national holiday in much of Mexico, but public schools are closed and some businesses recognize it as a full holiday.

Though it’s a huge part of Mexican history, it’s not their biggest holiday. They celebrate their independence day on Sept. 16–though most Americans mistakenly consider Cinco de Mayo as that celebration.

Whether it’s in Mexico, the United States or elsewhere around the globe, Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate pride in Mexican heritage, culture and history.


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