Overview and Origin of Cinco De
holiday of Cinco De Mayo is celebrated to commemorate the victory of the
Mexican army by a much greater force. On May 5th of 1862, the
Mexican army with only 4,000 soldiers defeated the better equipped
French army of 8,000 at the Battle of Puebla. To commemorate this
holiday, Mexico celebrates the victory with food, dance and fun.
Although a national holiday in Mexico, the good cheer has spread around
the globe, and in many places, especially the United States, this has
become a day to get together with friends for good food and drinks.
History of Cinco De Mayo and the
Battle of Puebla
In 1862, Mexico, like it’s northern
neighbor, was a fledgling new country. It had declared its independence
from Spain only 52 years earlier, in 1810 [Note: Mexico did not gain
full independence, until 1822, after much bloodshed]. It’s own armies
were not as built up as some of the other world powers such as England,
Spain and France. Some of these other countries took advantage of their
weakness. In late 1861, the French government (under orders of Emperor
Napoleon III) sent along diplomats and armed soldiers under the pretext
of collecting debts from Mexico. [Note: Mexico was only beginning to
recover from the Mexican Civil War of 1858.] However, under the
leadership of Archduke Maximillan of Austria, the force landed in Vera
Cruz and made its way towards the Mexican capital – Mexico City.
Although taken by surprise, Benito Juarez,
the President of Mexico, quickly assembled his troops under the command
of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. Upon the approach of the French
army towards Puebla (approx. 100 miles east of Mexico City), Zaragosa
dispatched Colonel Porfirio Diaz to lead the cavalry to flank the
approaching men. This turned out to be the first blunder of the day for
the French. They sent their own cavalry to meet the Mexicans, who knew
the land and were much better fighters on horseback. They slaughtered
the French cavalry with little losses to their own men. The French
still forged ahead and decided to attack the city. This was their
second mistake. The Mexican army sent large numbers of cattle stampeding
around the city to make the grounds around the city (already wet by
heavy rainfall) hard to walk on – especially when walking towards enemy
defenders. The Mexican army was defeated and suffered heavy casualties.
Cinco De Mayo
The Battle of Puebla won the war for
Mexico. No, the celebration is for the victory over the French
on May 5th for this particular battle only. More French
soldiers (approx. 30,000) were sent to Mexico and the Mexicans
eventually lost the war and Maximilian became the ruler of Mexico. His
reign was short lived. In 1867, the U.S. Civil War was over, and
President Lincoln, who was sympathetic to the Mexican’s cause, sent
troops and supplies to help the Mexican “rebels” to repel the French.
[Note: U.S. soldiers discharged after Civil War were able to keep their
arms and uniform if they were to go south and fight in Mexico.]
Cinco De Mayo is Mexican Independence
Day. No, this is another myth. Mexican Independence Day is
September 16th, the date Mexico declared its independence
from Spain in 1810.
Cinco De Mayo is a holiday in the
United States. Yes, and no. It is only an official holiday in
the Puebla region of Mexico. However, other parts of Mexico, and many
people in the United States celebrate the holiday every year.
De Mayo Facts and History
Holidays: Cinco De Mayo (MexOnline.com): History
& information on the holiday plus links to related sources.
de Mayo 1862 (NACNET.com): History of Cinco De
May in English and Spanish.
of Cinco De Mayo (VivaCincoDeMayo):
Information, celebration & history of the holiday.
History Directory (MexOnline):
Information on historical events, people and documents in Mexico.
People and History of Mexico (Mexico Connect):
A timeline of Mexican history with links to information on each date.
The complete online guide to Mexico.
This is one holiday where you can never
forget the date. Although a Mexican holiday, people throughout all
of North America celebrate this holiday. Bars and nightclubs are
usually full and everyone is happy. This is not a traditional gift
giving holiday, however, because of its festive mood, gifts of food and
drink are welcome.
Throwing a Cinco De Mayo Party:
There is no greater gift than food. So, why not give a lot of people
the enjoyment of a holiday gift and throw a party. It does not need
to be elaborate. The theme is fun with a Mexican charm. All you need
to get are a drinks, Mexican food and some Spanish/Mexican CDs. You
could "snaz it up" by purchasing some sombreros or other Mexican
type memorabilia to display around the room. Remember, the object is
to have fun, but to drink responsibly.
Going to a Cinco De Mayo Party:
Food and drink are the two things that would be most welcome for this
occasion. For drinks pick up some Corona Beer, Tequila or
Mexican/Spanish wine. For Food, send a gift basket of fruits or
vegetable - or send a gift basket specifically for Cinco De Mayo.
Travel: Where else would be a
better place to visit during the beginning of May besides Mexico.
The country is beautiful and it is before the summer, so it is not too hot
down there yet. Just be ready to put your party hat on if you come
this time of year.