The Importance of Cinco de Mayo

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In North America May 5th is known to many as “Cinco de Mayo”. On this date in restaurants and homes alike, Mexican food and drink can be found on the menu while pubs and bars see an increase in sales of Corona and Dos Equis. In Canada and the United States May 5th is often celebrated as Mexico’s Independence Day. That is a misconception. Mexico’s true Independence Day is September 16th but May 5th does still hold significant meaning for the people of Mexico.

Battle of Puebla

On May 5, 1862 the Battle of Puebla took place near the town of Puebla, Mexico during the French Intervention. The Mexican Army was largely outnumbered by the French Army but the battle ended in a Mexican victory. The elation did not last, as the French returned to overrun the Mexican Army and advance on Mexico City. Although it was a short-lived victory, the Battle of Puebla proved to be a significant morale boost for the Mexican Army and is still celebrated annually.

El Día de la Batalla de Puebla is celebrated in Puebla each year on May 5th. There are parades, dancing and festivals in the streets. Mariachi bands play boisterously in town squares and traditional Mexican food is served alongside plenty of Dos Equis, Pacifico, Montejo and Coronas. While this is a big celebration and holiday in Puebla, the rest of Mexico does not usually recognize it.


Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is mostly celebrated in the United States by both Mexicans and Americans alike. Each year on May 5th you can find restaurants and pubs adding a little Mexican flare to their menus, from Mexican beers to tamales to margaritas. In some stores you can find Mexican flags and sombreros on the shelves. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is more of a celebration of the Mexican way of life including food, drink, music and dance, rather than of Mexican independence.

To this day Cinco de Mayo is observed more north of the US/Mexico border. Elementary school students in bordering states such as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are taught about the significance of May the 5th to their southern neighbours. Some US cities with a large Mexican population will even have parades and festivities to celebrate Cinco de Mayo which some have likened to the Mexican St. Patrick’s Day.

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