May 5th Is Cinco de MayoApril 30th, 2012 by Craig Mullins
Spanish for “fifth of May”, Cinco de Mayo is a held on May 5th of each year and is celebrated by thousands of people throughout the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla.
In America the day is a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, commemorating freedom and democracy during their first years in the American Civil War. Latinos and Mexicans living in California during the American Civil War were the first to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the U.S.
In the Puebla region of Mexico, however, Cinco de Mayo is referred to as El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla) and commemorates the Mexican army’s surprise victory over the French during the Battle of Puebla, which occurred on May 5, 1862.
The victory represented a significant morale boost to the Mexican army and the Mexican people at large. In the description of The History Channel, “Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s success at Puebla represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement.” The description of Time magazine was: “The Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath.” It helped establish a much-needed sense of national unity and patriotism. [source]
Contrary to what most people believe, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. That day, which is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico, is actually observed on September 16th.
In more recent years Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the United States have taken on a meaning larger than those in Mexico. Celebrations held in America are a melting of traditional Mexican symbols, like the Virgen de Guadalupe, and prominent figures in the Mexican-American community of contemporary times, like Cesar Chavez.
In celebration of Cinco de Mayo many communities display banners and have street festivals, and schools hold special educational events highlighting Mexican culture, especially regional dancing and music. Drinking is also a common way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo across the United States.
Some California Celebrations:
- As with years past, the San Francisco Cinco de Mayo Celebration 2012 will be held at Dolores Park from 10am to 6pm.
- Beginning at noon on May 5th, the El Jardin Tequila Bar in San Jose, CA will be celebrating the day with a Mexican fair featuring food, drinks, live music, piñatas, games, dancing, and more.
- Los Angeles has several Cinco de Mayo celebrations and festivals including Cinco de Mayo at Olvera Street, Cinco de Maya at LA Plaza, Cinco de Mayo in Santa Ana, and more. You can find information about them all via the Cinco de Mayo in Los Angeles 2012 page on About.com.
Elsewhere in the world, Cinco de Mayo celebrations include an annual skydiving event near Vancouver, Canada, an air guitar competition held in the Cayman Islands, and a Mexican Festival in Brisbane, Australia.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!! How will you be celebrating?