Cinco de Mayo is finally here and its time to break out the Corona’s and the Tecate and drink ourselves silly! Tequila shots, Mexican sombreros and Mariachis all ring in Mexican Independence day with a bang right? Well actually no, Cinco de Mayo has been so co-opted by commercial enterprise, that it’s true meaning has been lost. Much like St. Patrick’s Day here in the US the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo is much more than a round of drinks and far from being Mexican Independence day.
Mexican Independence day is September 16, 1810, fifty years before the events of Cinco de Mayo, originally known as, the Battle of Puebla. On May 5, 1862, 6,500 French soldiers marched on Puebla, Mexico in an attempt to secure the city for France. With an army of 4,500 men the Mexican army mainly consisting of farm workers were able to successfully defend the city and thwart the French invasion into Puebla. Why is this a big deal? The Mexican army fitted with machetes and antiquated rifles were outnumbered, outgunned and under trained yet still managed to kill 462 French while only sustaining 83 casualties. Needless to say, repelling the French army against an seemingly easy French victory, has been a huge source of pride for the Mexicans.
No one is certain how this holiday has become adopted by commercial enterprise and turned into a day of drinking but one thing is certain, it may not be Mexican Independence day but I’ll still drink to that! Salud
¡Mexicanos!¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron la patria y libertad!
Here is video of the annual official reenactment parade in Peñón de los Baños, Mexico.