Cinco de Mayo is almost here and many are ready to celebrate! With an abundance of restaurants hosting specials and extravagant festivities on the horizon here in Central Florida, do you know the reason behind this momentous occasion? What makes this day in May so special? If you are just as curious as us, keep reading to find out!
What is Cinco de Mayo?
As many of us know, the fifth of May or more commonly known as Cinco de Mayo is a popular day of celebration in the United States where many people drink adult drinks, party while eating Mexican-inspired cuisine, and listen to Mexican music. Even though this day in Mexican history is about a single battle, in America, this day is celebrated as a way to express Mexican heritage. This celebratory day in America is mainly a celebration started by people of Mexican descent to celebrate their heritage and pride in their culture. However, historically this day is originally celebrated in remembrance of a single battle that was fought and won by the Mexicans against the French in 1862. This battle is known as the Battle of Puebla, which took place in the city of Puebla, present-day Puebla de Zaragoza. This day is not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day which is on September 16th.
Leading up to the Battle of Puebla, the Mexican government at the time was in over its head in debt and financial turmoil in late 1861. The new president, Benito Juárez, was trying his best to keep Mexico afloat; while doing so, he was forced to halt on the repayment of debts owed to the European powers of France, Britain, and Spain. This stopping of payments upset these European countries, forcing them to make a visit to Mexico. Britain and Spain were able to negotiate the terms of the debt owed to them and left. However, France was under the rule of Napoleon Ⅲ and tried to take advantage of Mexico’s weakened condition to expand the French empire. French troops landed in Veracruz, Mexico storming the country with 6,000 soldiers. Juárez mustered up 2,000 of his loyal men and sent them to Puebla.
On May 5th, 1862, the Battle of Puebla commenced from sunup into the early evening. The French retreated after losing roughly 500 men all while the Mexicans lost less than 100. After the battle ended, the city of Puebla was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza after General Ignacio Zaragoza who led his men to victory that day. Puebla de Zaragoza still holds its celebrations each year as a day of remembrance to commemorate the battle that took place there many years ago.
Learning and knowing more about the significance of Cinco de Mayo is very interesting! An even more interesting fact is that this day is more widely celebrated here in the US but is still celebrated in Mexico in certain parts as a military win. Puebla de Zaragoza has declared this day a full holiday with parades and reenactments to show their pride. It’s cool to be educated about this day in history and to think that we celebrate this day because of a battle that took place in Mexico!