There's More to Cinco de Mayo Than You Might Know!
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, a popular misconception. It is a yearly celebration held on May 5, which commemorates a single battle; the anniversary of Mexico's victory over the Second French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In fact, this underdog Mexican victory may have played a part in preventing French Emperor Napoleon III from helping the Confederacy win the American Civil War. Napoleon figured if he could get his hands on Mexico, it could become the first colony in a new French stronghold in North America. With a French puppet government installed in Mexico City, Napoleon could provide guns to the Confederacy in exchange for Southern cotton, a scarce commodity in Europe thanks to Union shipping blockades. But his plans were thwarted when the French took a surprise beatdown by Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza, and a ragtag group of enlisted volunteer troops. The French army retreated and wouldn’t return to Puebla for a full year later. Some contend that the year-long delay of the French invasion gave Abraham Lincoln’s generals just enough time to win decisive Union victories before Napoleon could provide upgraded artillery and munitions to the Confederacy.
The holiday is more popular in the U.S. and only a minor holiday in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo first started in California in 1863 in response to the resistance to French rule in Mexico. It has evolved, over the years, into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage. The holiday crossed over from California into the rest of the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, but did not gain popularity until the 1980s. Marketers, especially beer companies, capitalized on the celebratory nature of the day and began to promote it. There is more to this celebration of Mexican heritage than beer, mariachi bands, and wild parties. Cinco de Mayo has a history that runs deep and continues to serve as a vehicle conveying Mexican culture, pride, and values.
So join us as we celebrate these wonderful beautiful people on Friday, May 5th!