The Historical Cinco De Mayo

May 5, 2015

Reenactment of the battle of Puebla.
Credit badassoftheweek.com / CC

  

Cinco De Mayo in more modern times.
Credit MarkScottAustinTX / Flickr

Today is Cinco De Mayo, a celebration that’s come a long way from its historic roots in Mexico.  In the US, May 5th is often mistakenly associated with Mexico’s Independence Day….which actually falls on September 16th.  But historically, the 5th of May marks the Mexican Army’s brief victory over French forces during the battle of Puebla in 1862.  The French occupation of Mexico continued for the next three years until support was cut by Napoleon III, leaving French occupiers to fight on until their slaughter.

Today’s observance is an American creation that’s almost completely ignored in Mexico except for small celebrations in Puebla where townspeople dress in historic uniforms.

Although the origins of the American holiday are murky, it’s been growing in size since the 1960’s, and celebrated less and less by Mexican Americans, and more and more by college drinking crowds.  Marie Villa is the former publisher of the Hawaii Hispanic News. To her, the modern holiday had nothing to do with her roots. 

Villa adds that Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th, to October 15th, is more appropriate celebration of Hispanic culture.