¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Before you reach for the tacos and tequila, do you actually know what you're celebrating?
Fourth of July is synonymous with Independence Day in the U.S.A. but the day referred to as Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, is not Independence Day in Mexico.
Mexico became independent from Spain on September 16th, 1810, almost half a century before the events leading to the Cinco de Mayo holiday occured!
El Día de la Batalla de Puebla, or The Day of the Battle of Puebla is colloquially known as Cinco De Mayo, the day it is celebrated. This day recognizes an unlikely military victory by the Mexican army.
In 1862, during the French invasion of Mexico, an ill-equipped 4,000 person Mexican army, greatly outnumbered by the French, fought the Batalla de Puebla on the fifth of May -- and won!
On May 9th of that same year, Mexican President Juárez declared that May 5th become a national holiday, commemorating the unexpected win.
Soon after, the French took control of Mexico City and remained in power until 1867. With the end of the American Civil War, the United States could also assist Mexico in the later part of the decade and help free them from European military control.
Cinco de Mayo has since transformed into a Mexican-American holiday, rising in popularity in the 1960s as Latinos in this country gained prominence.
So while you're enjoying your margaritas on the cheap, great Mexican food in NYC or visiting a Mexican cultural exhibit, know what today is all about. And get ready to celebrate Mexican Independence Day in September!