By Richard Monk
Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday celebrated each and every year. Known as El Cinco de Mayo, the holiday is based on an event, not the independence of the country.
Every country celebrates a unique day representing a significant event in its past. This is often the day when the country either gained independence from an imperial force or came together in its present form. For instance, the United States celebrates Independence Day on July 4th each year to commemorate the day independence from the British occurred. Many people assume Cinco de Mayo refers to a similar event. It does not.
The independence day for Mexico is celebrated every year in September. As the name suggests, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May 5th each year. Given the popularity of the holiday, one must wonder what the exact reason for Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of a military victory. The holiday is a memorial to the defeat of the French army in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Specifically, the battle was a sign of the coming of age of Mexico, primarily because of the circumstances surrounding it.
In the mid-1800s, the French were a superior military force. This is the period of Napoleon, a time when France dominated much of the known world. In Mexico, the military process of the people was in great doubt. The Battle of Puebla would change this forever and provide a huge boost to a country.
The battle commemorated by Cinco de Mayo was one of those historic events where the underdog comes out on top. In this case, a Mexican force of 4,000 men were led into battle by a 33 year old general by the name of Ignacio Zaragoza. In turn, the French force consisted of 6,000 crack troops from Napoleon’s army, although Napoleon did not lead them. As you can guess, the French were defeated after only four hours. This, of course, resulted in a massive boost to national pride in Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo is a momentous event in the culture of Mexico. Just keep in mind that it is not a celebration of independence day.