Tacos and Tequila: A History of Cinco de Mayo

Categories:Flags, General Holidays
Debbie O'Keefe
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Hey did you know the 5th of May is coming up? O para mis amigos espanoles es Cinco de Mayo! In case you’ve been living under a rock for your entire life Cinco de Mayo is basically the Mexican version of St. Patrick’s Day. But instead of eating corned beef and drinking Guinness you eat tacos and drink tequila. While that may explain HOW most Americans celebrate the holiday it doesn’t really explain WHY we celebrate.

Significance of Cinco de Mayo

Now if I were to ask you why Mexicans celebrate on the fifth of May you would probably say it was the Mexican Day of Independence. You would be wrong, but I wouldn’t blame you. In fact the Mexican day of Independence is not until the 16th of September. A date you’re probably completely unaware of if you’re not of Mexican heritage. So if Cinco de Mayo isn’t a celebration of Independence than what is it a celebration of?  Cinco de Mayo is a commemoration of the Battle of Puebla where Mexico won an unlikely victory over France in 1862. Did you know that European countries were still invading the Americas almost 100 years after the birth of America? No?  Neither did I.

Mexico vs USA

Were you surprised that Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of a victory in a battle you’ve never heard of, as a part of a war you probably didn’t know ever happened? Then you’d  better be sitting down for this next bombshell.  Mexico rarely celebrates Cinco de Mayo! It’s not even considered a national holiday!  Mexico commemorates the day with military parades and little else. In that way Cinco de Mayo is more of an American holiday than a Mexican one. The story goes that when Mexicans working in California heard that the Battle of Puebla was won they threw a big party to celebrate. California  has celebrated Cinco de Mayo every year since 1863.  It has since grown to encompass the entirety of the United States.

3ft x 5ft Nylon Mexico Flag with Heading and Grommets

Cinco De Mayo Today

Today Cinco de Mayo is less a commemoration of an old battle and morer a celebration of Mexican-American culture. It is the one day a year that the whole country celebrates Mexican culture and all the great things we have adopted from them such as tacos, tequila, sombreros, mariachi bands etc. So when Cinco de Mayo rolls around this year and you’ve got a taco in one hand, a tequila in the other and a sombrero on your head, just take a moment to think about the wonderful people these things you love came from and maybe buy yourself a Mexican flag to really show your solidarity with your brother and sisters from the south.

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