05 May 2011

¡Fiesta! Cinco De Mayo

¡Felicidades, mis amigos y amigas! Es Cinco de Mayo - at which point most Mexicans will look at you and basically say, "Yeah, so?"

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla, when a small force of ragtag Mexican soldiers and peasants defeated the French Army in 1862. Eight thousand French soldiers and loyalists marched toward Veracruz to try and colonize the poor, bankrupt nation. Mexican President Benito Juarez gathered what soldiers and peasants he could - many armed only with machetes and hunting rifles - to stop them. Nearly 500 French solders were killed on this day while the Mexicans only lost 100. It was a great moral victory for the Mexicans.

But this is NOT Mexico's Independence Day. That is September 16th, celebrating the 1810 defeat and liberation from Spain's rule. And Cinco de Mayo honestly isn't celebrated all that much in Mexico. It was an extremely bloody battle and didn't end the French occupation - that took six more years. Some historians trace the start of the Cinco de Mayo celebration to 1863 California - and the Southwestern US adopted the commemoration as a reason to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. Now of course, it's mainly marketed as a day to drink Corona and eat chalupas.

So if you're in the mood, whip up some chicken enchiladas and raise a bottle of Modelo Negra  or a couple of tequila shooters to those machete-wielding mestizos. ¡Viva México! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for explaining that, Jude - fascinating. I've been hearing the expression but didn't know what it was all about!