What is Cinco de Mayo?

I’m sure I’m not the only person that always wondered what Cinco de Mayo actually was. Even in elementary school, it was made to be a big deal. Some of my friends who were a part of the Mexican community celebrated it, and for the rest of us, it was an excuse to eat tacos and appropriate aspects of Mexican culture.

Like this.

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(Sorry about this.)

However, like with many holidays we celebrate here in the U.S., the story behind Cinco de Mayo is widely unknown. Many people think that May 5th is Mexican Independence Day, which is actually celebrated on September 16th and commemorates Mexico’s liberation from Spain (please click here to read more about it). It’s not. May 5th actually commemorates Mexico’s military victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862-not over Spain.

As Raul Ramos (Professor of History at University of Houston) puts it:

“The significance of Cinco de Mayo is that it represents Mexican resistance to foreign intervention, it is a moment where Mexico as a young nation rallied to defend itself.”

So, to those of you who think that Cinco de Mayo is about sombreros and margaritas and guacamole:

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Know the story and maybe leave the celebrations for those whose history the day actually represents.

For those who should actually celebrate, Happy Cinco de Mayo. Enjoy the reenactments and celebrations!

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