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May 03 2017

Why We Celebrate Cinco De Mayo

Many people in the United States see Cinco De Mayo as an excuse to have a few extra margaritas or take advantage of happy hour specials at their local Mexican restaurant. While taco specials are never a bad thing, the story behind the celebration is often lost in a blur of discount shots and tacky sombreros. This year, we’re hoping to buck that trend and shed a little light on the origin of the holiday. In honor of Mexico’s victory of the Battle of Puebla, here are a few things you might not know about this widely celebrated holiday.

It’s Not Mexican Independence Day

Many people think Cinco De Mayo is to Mexico as Fourth of July is to America. Mexico’s Independence Day is actually on September 16, when, in 1810, the Mexican War of Independence began. In 1824, Mexican Independence was finally accepted by Spain. The 5th of May instead celebrates the Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla, which marked the start of another fight for their independence 50 years later.

In 1864, the Mexican president at the time, President Benito Juarez, declared Mexico incapable of paying its debts to other countries. That prompted France to invade Mexico in hopes of collecting their debt and claiming the former Spanish territory under the French flag. On May 5th, 1862, French troops landed on the shores of Puebla, thinking they had an easy battle ahead of them.

Illustration of the Battle of Puebla, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The French, however, underestimated the people of Puebla. They did not predict the strength and sheer grit that the Mexican army used to defeat them, despite being outnumbered by armies two to three times their size, according to various accounts.

Though the French ultimately were able to reach Mexico City, The Battle of Puebla became a symbol of national resilience, and acted as a unifying moment for the people of Mexico. In the coming years, Mexico was able to curb French Imperialism and bring their president back to power, resisting European power and  upholding their independence.

Cinco De Mayo is More Widely Celebrated In the U.S. Than It Is In Mexico

In the 1860’s, we were hardly free of conflict north of the border. Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla happened at the crux of the American Civil War, putting hope into the hearts of Mexican Americans. This news from the south  incited prevalent celebration and created a sign of hope in America, especially in Southern California.

These days, while Cinco De Mayo is widely celebrated in one way or another in the U.S., it’s more of a minor holiday in Mexico. Students have the day off from school,  some government offices are closed, and the largest celebrations take place in Puebla with a military parade and reenactment. There are many explanations for the grand U.S. celebrations of this holiday ranging from America’s empowerment from Mexico’s actions during Civil War time, to Los Angeles’ Good Neighbor Policy hoping to build a bridge between Mexican and American cultures, to marketing efforts by the California Avocado Commission.

However you celebrate Cinco De Mayo, this year, remember the brave troops who fought for their country, and against the odds inspired Mexican resistance. To learn more about Baston Del Rey’s top notch tequilas, visit our website today!

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