Facts About Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is one of those holidays, which is widely, celebrated in the United States, even though it cannot necessarily be said that it is widely understood by Americans. Whether you are already well aware of what Cinco de Mayo commemorates or the history behind the holiday, the following Cinco de Mayo facts make great conversation starters at any party on this holiday.
1) Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day: Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of about 4,000 Mexican soldiers under the command of General Ignacio Zaragosa over a French force of nearly twice its size at Puebla, Mexico (not very far east of Mexico City) on May 5th, 1862.
In case you are keeping score, Mexico’s Independence Day is actually September 16; and the country declared its independence from Spain in 1810, not 1862.
2) Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated in the United States since 1863, though until the 1960s, most of these celebrations took place in California, Texas and other states bordering Mexico as well as among Mexican-Americans. However, the holiday has been increasingly popular since the late 1960s, when the idea of celebrating Cinco de Mayo caught on with college students – and the rest, as they say, is history.
3) Cinco de Mayo is not a major holiday in Mexico. It is celebrated mostly in the state of Puebla, where the Battle of Puebla was fought. There are small celebrations elsewhere around the country, but it seems that Americans have taken to the holiday with more enthusiasm than have most of Mexico’s citizenry.
4) Los Angeles is home to the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration. The Festival de Fiesta Broadway, as it is known, regularly draws crowds of more than half a million. The US is also home to other large Cinco de Mayo events, such as those held in Denver, St. Paul, and Chicago.
5) We do not celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States just because we love Mexican food and drink; the holiday also commemorates the cultural and historic ties between the two countries. If Mexico hadn’t been successful in its struggle against France, the French would have been able to provide their support to the Confederate states in the US Civil War; in part, the outcome of the war may have depended on Mexico’s own war against France at the time.
There are other facts about Cinco de Mayo, which you (and the guests at your Cinco de Mayo party) may not yet know; but these facts about the holiday should be more than enough to start a conversation about Cinco de Mayo; or get you started on doing some research of your own.
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