Look(ed) up Cinco de Mayo…
…because I heard on the news today that it was invented in California! Today, the fifth of May, is a big-deal Mexican-American holiday, particularly in border states like Arizona and New Mexico. I sort of assumed that people of Mexican descent had been celebrating it for centuries!
Here is the Real Story:
Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not the celebration of Mexico’s independence day. The El Grito de la Indepedencia (Cry of Independence) is held annually on Sept. 16 in honor of Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule in 1810.
Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of freedom from a different oppressive European empire: France. The holiday actually commemorates the Mexican army’s win over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
The holiday was invented in California in 1863, to draw Latinos in the US together. Now it is widely celebrated in the border states, and is becoming more widespread all over the US. The only Mexican state that celebrates it, however, is Puebla. Nearly every restaurant here in Arizona is offering Cinco de Mayo specials today. Our largest furniture retailer is having a Cinco de Mayo sale!
We celebrate by eating, drinking, and listening to music, as with many holidays. This year, it is especially poignant to recognize Mexican culture with the recent controversy over illegal immigrants. US people of Mexican descent have a long and proud heritage in our state, and whatever its origin, I celebrate the fifth day of the fifth month. ¡Olé!