The most popular holiday associated with Mexican cuisine is “Cinco de Mayo” (the 5th of May).Studies show, however, that this holiday is more popular in the United States than in Mexico. On this day, many people in Visalia, CA – as well as other locations around the world –eat Mexican food but have no clue what this day truly means in the history of Mexico. 

What really happened on the 5th of May?

Contrary to popular belief and practice, Cinco de Mayo is not the Independence Day of Mexico from Spain—a misconception that many Americans have. According to the Mexican government and residents, Mexico had already declared their independence from Spain 50 years prior to the battle that this holiday is commemorating. September 16th is the actual day of independence that is celebrated throughout Mexico.

What the Cinco de Mayo holiday should celebrate is the famous Battle of Puebla (a city in Mexico), which took place on May 5, 1862. Mexico was supposed to be having problems paying back war debts to countries in Europe, and on this day, France invaded Mexico with armies of soldiers to collect on those war debts. The French army was larger, better equipped, and more trained than the Mexican army, but the latter took a valiant stand and won a huge victory that day. While Mexico lost less than 100 soldiers, the French lost more than 500.

Even though the French would later regroup and attack again, May 5th was always remembered as the day when an unlikely victory took place, with Mexico winning against overwhelming odds.

Why do Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

In the United States, Americans and Mexicans both celebrate Cinco de Mayo, although the reason why the holiday is important to American culture isn’t clear. One of the theories is that at one time, this holiday was celebrated by all cities and territories in Mexico, as well as individuals living in former Mexican territories (Texas and California). Residents north of the Mexican border continue to celebrate this day in honor of that famous battle more than 150 years ago, but in Mexico, there is only one city that celebrates Cinco de Mayo: Puebla. This day is just like any other day to other cities and territories of Mexico.

How do Americans celebrate the holiday?

Americans celebrate the holiday with parades, parties, Mariachi music, and traditional Mexican foods and beverages. Some choose to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at one of the Mexican restaurants in Visalia, CA, such as Alejandra’s Restaurant, where they can have flavored margaritas during daily happy hours or all day Mondays, conventional staples like flautas and burritos, and authentic specials.

The next time you celebrate this holiday, think beyond Mexican food and beverages. Remember the significance of this day, and how Mexico beat the odds and secured an unusual victory!

Sources:

(Cinco de Mayo: Why is it a holiday?, usatoday.com)

(Is Cinco De Mayo Celebrated In Mexico? History Facts And Misconceptions About The May 5 Holiday, ibtimes.com)