Happy Cinco de Mayo, or, Battle of Puebla, or both

Today we celebrate “Cinco de Mayo” in Dallas, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Your favorite Mexican restaurant will be all dressed up and ready to serve a delicious round of nachos, enchiladas and beer. “It sells a lot of beer” as my Filipino friend who owns a Mexican restaurant likes to boast.  He doesn’t really know anything about “Cinco de Mayo” but the sound of the register makes him happy.  So, what’s the big deal about “Cinco de Mayo”?  Why is everyone so happy and festive?

Allan Wall, who lived in Mexico, wrote a good summary for those of us who are not Mexican or studied Mexican history in school.   Here it is so read it before your beer & nachos:     

Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for “May the 5th,” is the holiday celebrating the Mexican victory over the French army on May the 5th, 1862, at Puebla, east of Mexico City.

The city of Puebla holds a big annual celebration on the anniversary of the battle. But in most of Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not really an important holiday. It’s mostly a bank holiday and a day off from school. But this year it’s on a Saturday so my students don’t even get a break for it!

In the United States however, Cinco de Mayo has become, in recent years, the major Mexican – American celebration. Throughout the Southwest, and in other parts of the U.S., there are various Cinco de Mayo celebrations – parades, mariachi music performances, and exhibitions of Mexican dancing, etc.

Washington D.C. has an annual Cinco de Mayo Festival and President Bush is known for Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the White House. Cinco de Mayo is also a big beer-drinking day, with Mexican beer brands doing 5-10% of their U.S. sales for the occasion.

“Cinco de Mayo” means “Fifth of May”.

In the U.S., especially in the Southwest, “Cinco de Mayo” has turned into a day of celebrating Mexican heritage.  Down in Mexico, “Cinco de Mayo” is about a battle around Puebla, or south of Mexico City. Up here, it is one big excuse for taking a longer lunch.

So another “Cinco de Mayo” is here.  Up here, we will eat some good Mexican food. Down in Mexico, they will ask again:  “Why are those gringos suddenly so crazy about Mexican food”?

Enjoy your Mexican food.  We all need an hour off from inflation, gas prices and leaks.

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1 thought on “Happy Cinco de Mayo, or, Battle of Puebla, or both”

  1. Thanks, but I don’t patronize Mexican restaurants, regardless of what day it is, and I think Mexicans are in far greater need of learning Cuba’s true history than Cubans are of learning about theirs, not that they care.

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