Celebrating Cinco de Mayo
May 5, 2011
The 5th of May is a regional festival in certain parts of Mexico and the United States, but its historical roots go beyond merely throwing street parties and colorful parades. This day marks the victory of the Mexican army over the French in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla.
Contrary to popular thinking, May 5 is not the Independence day of Mexico, which is actually celebrated on September 16. However, this day is still important because it showcased the bravery of an underdog army who defeated an enemy with twice as many soldiers and better weaponry on its side.
The long years of war
Mexico’s early years of independence were riddled with political and economic difficulties. The country was engaged in a long and bitter battle with its American neighbors in 1846-48, and then a Civil War broke out in 1858. By the time Benito Juarez took his oath as president, the national economy was already in tatters and the civil unrest was rampant across the country.
To finance the previous military campaigns, the government had to borrow funds from England, France and Spain. President Juarez knew that the country needs time to rehabilitate. Its debt payments were eating the national treasury faster than it can be filled, so Juarez requested a debt moratorium of two years to help the country get back on its feet.
The Europeans would have none of it. In response to the stoppage of payments, the French sent a 6,000-strong army to the Gulf of Mexico in order to take over the country install a new ruler. Fortunately, they underestimated the valor and patriotism of the Mexican army, who fought them in the small town of Puebla and halted their advance towards the capital.
Why Americans should join the celebration
But the 4, 000 Mexican soldiers did not face the French alone—they were helped by the American militia who made sure that they had all the necessary supplies and ammunition to continue the battle. Then US President Abraham Lincoln was sympathetic to the Mexican cause, but the country was also engaged in its own civil war so it was difficult to provide maximum assistance to their Latin American neighbor.
Although the victory was short-lived and the French retaliated by sending an army of 30,000 soldiers to continue the invasion, the Battle of Puebla turned out to be a symbolic day in Mexican history because it showed that a small and poorly-outfitted militia can hold its own against a stronger, more numerous enemy.
Today, Cinco de Mayo is mostly celebrated in areas where there are large populations of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Of course, Puebla is where this day is celebrated with much pomp and noise, but cities all across the US and Mexico are also picking up the Cinco de Mayo habit. It has become an important occasion to celebrate not just the bravery of Mexican soldiers but also the cooperation and friendship between the two countries.
The holiday is celebrated with lots of Mexican food, music and beverage. There are also parades, concerts, mariachi performances and street parties galore. Some places in northern US actually hold a week-long celebration before May 5, making the holiday even more popular and accessible to non-Mexicans.
DetailXPerts Cinco de Mayo Special
DetailXPerts is one with the Mexican-American community in celebrating this important occasion. That’s why we have a special offer for you only for this holiday! Everyone who brings their vehicle for professional detailing from May 5th to May 10th will receive a CD with Mexican music – for better mood and car adventures. Happy Cinco de Mayo!