The History of Cinco de Mayo Festivities!
Cinco de Mayo is literally translated as the 5th of May. It’s a holiday that’s celebrated throughout the United States as a day to celebrate Mexican traditions and culture. However, in Mexico it’s generally only celebrated in the state of Puebla. In Puebla it’s a day where citizens commemorate the unlikely win in the Battle of Puebla. Many people believe that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day. This isn’t true. Mexican Independence day is actually held on September 16th.
So How is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated in the United States?
Cinco de Mayo gained its first popularity in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s. It was designed to bridge cultures and promote better relations. In 2005, the U.S. Congress issued a Concurrent Resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation. It called for the people of the U.S. to observe Cinco de Mayo.
In the United States, due to a growing Latin population, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated a number of ways. More than 20 states have annual celebrations. Los Angeles, California is said to have the largest celebration with more than 500,000 people gathering outside city hall. According to the National Geographic news site, news.nationalgeographic.com, “Cinco de Mayo has rapidly gained popularity in the U.S., where changing demographics have helped to turn the holiday into a cultural event. Latinos are the largest minority in the U.S. today with 44.3 million people, representing 15 percent of the population, according to a July 2008 U.S. Census Bureau report.”
In the United States – even in states and cities that have a low Mexican and Latin population – the number of Cinco de Mayo events continues to increase. A common tradition is to eat by going out to Latin and Mexican restaurants or to invite others and have a party.
How is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated in Mexico?
In 1862, French ships, by order of Napoleon III, began an attack on the forts of Loreto and Guadalup in Puebla de Los Angeles, Mexico. According to history, two thousand men led by General Ignazio Zaragoza, fought and held the fort.
While it’s a historical day, it’s also a day of celebration, albeit at a much calmer level than some historical celebrations. While Cinco de Mayo is now equated to St. Patrick’s Day in the United States for its wild celebrations, in Puebla you’ll find family friendly fun including parades and performances.
The difference between the American Cinco de Mayo celebration and the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Mexico is night and day. What started as a celebration to recognize a growing culture and foster a connection has grown to an annual party where celebrants drink, eat, and dance in honor of Mexican culture and tradition.