Cinco de Mayo – A Celebration of Mexican Heritage and Culture
What exactly is Cinco de Mayo and why do we celebrate it on May 5th?
For many of us Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—is a social holiday that means eating Mariachi music, Mexican food, and maybe even having a margarita or cerveza. It began as a celebration of the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, the Mexican army’s unlikely win at Puebla on May 5 represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations like Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Texas has a special connection to Cinco de Mayo because General Zaragoza was born in what is now Goliad, Texas, the town designated by the Texas Senate as the “official place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo” in 1999.
This short video from the History Channel goes into more detail about the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867) and how Cindo de Mayo even has ties to the Civil War.
How is Cinco de Mayo celebrated?
In Mexico May 5 is just like any other day of the week. It is not observed as a Federal holiday so offices, banks, and businesses are open. It is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, where the unexpected victory occurred. Traditional celebrations include reenactments of the Battle of Puebla, military parades and other festive events.
The United States, and Texas in particular, has embraced Cinco de Mayo as its very own. The holiday gained traction during the 1960s, when Chicano activists began looking for a way to honor their history and culture.
To learn more about Cinco de Mayo, visit a few of the links below: