Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Learn the history behind this Mexican holiday!

Evie Smith, Photo Editor, Co-Litterbox Editor

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The 5th of May is just the day after May 4th and the one before May 6th for many, but for Americans, Beer companies, and the city of Pueblo, Mexico it is much more.

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the country’s victory in the Battle of Puebla. It all started because Mexico owed France, Spain, and Britain money. The three countries sent troops to Mexico to demand payment. Mexico was able to negotiate with Spain and Britain, however France saw and opportunity to gain territory and so their troops stayed.  

In the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862 France had a total of 6,000 prepared troops while Mexico only had 2,000 disorganized men according to mncsf.org. Despite the odds against the Mexicans, they left Puebla with an underdog victory. According to ABC News, the French lost 500 men; the Mexicans only 100. This battle was a great symbolic triumph for the Mexican government.

On May 9th, 1862, President Juarez declared Cinco de Mayo a national holiday. Even though it is a national holiday, Cinco de Mayo is only really celebrated in Puebla; however is also recognized by other places in Mexico. Traditional celebrations include reenactments, military parades, and parties. In Mexico, September 16th, Mexican Independence Day, is the widely accepted time to celebrate culture and patriotism according to mncsf.org.

However, in the United States, the celebrations of Cinco de Mayo were introduced by Mexican-American activists during the Chicano Movement in the 1960’s, according to the New York Times. They continued to gain popularity and attention as beer companies capitalized on the holiday in the 1980’s. According to Nielsen, a data and measurement company, in 2003 Americans spent $600 million in beer on Cinco de Mayo, which is more than what was spent on the Super Bowl.

In Seattle, celebrations of Cinco de Mayo can be found in El Centro de la Raza on Saturday, May 4 from 11 AM to 6 PM. Although the 5th of May is not the official celebration of Mexico’s independence, it is a time to celebrate the underdog victory in the Battle of Puebla.