Feliz Cinco de Mayo, Times readers! I'm sure you've all heard of this fun and lively Mexican 'dia de fiesta', but do you really know the history behind it? Personally, I had always been a little bit in the dark when it came to the reason why people celebrated Cinco de Mayo. It wasn't until around this time last year, when a student asked our Spanish teacher if we could have a class 'fiesta' for that day, that I really learned the history behind it.
I was actually quite surprised, because our Spanish teacher said no to the idea of having a class party, although she was usually all for us bringing in treats and having a good time. She then began to explain that she refused to have a Cinco de Mayo party in her classes because, for the most part, it isn't really a celebrated holiday in Mexico at all!
Although commonly assumed by many Americans, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's independence day. It actually serves as a commemoration for the victory of a single battle, la Batalla de Puebla (the Battle of Puebla), where the Mexican army defeated the invading French in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican war.
This end of this battle did not mark a large strategic win, and the war did not end until 6 years later. However, it was a very unlikely win for the rag-tag Mexican army in Puebla, and proved to later bolster the resistance movement and boost Mexican spirits everywhere.
Today, Cinco de Mayo is not observed as a national holiday in Mexico, and the banks and stores all remain open. Many Mexicans do not even acknowledge the day, and it seems to be celebrated solely in the little state of Puebla, where the battle took place. However, they do celebrate with battle recreations and parades, such as in the picture below where the Pueblan people show they are "orgullo de Puebla" or "Proud of Puebla".
Here in America, Cinco de Mayo has evolved to become a celebration of Mexican culture, especially in areas with a heavy Mexican-American population. Cities such as Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Washington D.C celebrate with parades, concerts, mariachi music, folklorico dancers, and even day long festivals.
So, no matter where you are and how you may choose to celebrate, I hope you have a Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Author's Note: Sources: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2013/05/04/10-best-places-to-celebrate-cinco-de-mayo/2135793/