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What is Cinco De Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo…with Chips & Guac on the Side

If you are starting to notice a shortage of avocados and Coronas at your local market, there is no need to panic. These are the early signs that Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner and Americans think this is their opportunity to be Mexican for a day.

Cinco de Mayo is probably the most misunderstood holiday of them all.  Often regarded as the equivalent to the United States’ 4th of July, it is not the Mexican Independence Day (which is actually September 16th).  In fact, it is not even a U.S. holiday, but just an opportunity for people to have a party.

cinco de mayo

Cinco de Mayo owes its origins to the Battle of Puebla during the French-Mexican War (1861-1867) which took place on May 5, 1862.  On this day, a relatively small Mexican army stood their ground against the much larger invading French forces attempting to overtake the state of Puebla.  The unlikely victory was a turning point in Mexico’s history, and had nothing to do with the United States or drinking.

Surprisingly, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more in the U.S. than in Mexico by folks wanting to expand their cultural exposure – largely from the attempts of every Mexican restaurant doing their best to define capitalism, just like the Irish pubs did just a month earlier for St. Patrick’s Day.  It doesn’t matter.  We in the U.S. will celebrate anything just to have an excuse to party and get drunk.  Tequila anyone?

No matter if one understands what Cinco de Mayo is, or when Mexico’s real Independence Day lands on the calendar, the important point to remember is the significance of freedom and those that fought to defend it.

Before you get too far in your celebration, hold up your ice cold cerveza, give thanks to those that made this possible, and chug away.  Celebrate the victories in our world’s history and not by turning any nationality into an ethnic stereotype.

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