The holiday of Cinco de Mayo (Translation: May Fifth) commemorates the defeat of the French army by Mexican militia at The Battle of Puebla in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867).
Here’s what led up to the conflict:
In 1861, Mexican President Benito Juarez was forced to default on his debts owed to European governments. This resulted in France, Spain, and Britain taking action by sending naval forces to Veracruz to demand payment. Spain and Britain worked out an agreement with Mexico, but Emperor Napoleon III of France had another reason behind the military action – he wanted the silver that could be mined in Mexico to finance his empire. Wow, Napoleon was a hot head– if he owned a car, do you think he’d have car insurance?
As an excuse to collect on outstanding war debts, France had sent a huge force of 6,500 soldiers to invade Mexico. The French landed on Mexico’s gulf coast and headed toward Mexico City. On May 5, 1862, they were met in Puebla and defeated by a much smaller force of 4,500 Mexican soldiers.
Cinco De Mayo is mainly a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla – with a battle re-enactment, a major parade and fireworks – and throughout the state of Puebla. Celebrations are more common in the United States than in Mexico, and many American cities hold carnivals, street fairs and multi-day festivals during the first week of May.
Contrary to widespread belief, Mexican Independence Day is actually September 16, 1810, when Father Miguel Hidalgo put out a call to arms to overthrow Spanish rule in Mexico.
Although it’s not a national holiday in Mexico, it is an official holiday in the State of Puebla. Throughout Mexico, all public schools are closed on May 5. It is also a full holiday in the state of Veracruz.
U.S. Cities with the Biggest Cinco de Mayo Festivals:
• Los Angeles, California
• Denver, Colorado
• Portland, Oregon
• Phoenix, Arizona
• San Diego, California
• St. Paul, Minnesota
• San Marcos, Texas
• Kansas City, Missouri
• Reno, Nevada
• Sparks, Nevada
Celebrate the day, but remember, if you choose to drink alcohol, be responsible – don’t drink and drive. A DUI will raise your car insurance premium.
How do you plan to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.