05 May 2012

Uno Mas, Por Favor! Salud!

Despite the fact that my only connection to Hispanic culture is a love for margaritas and fajitas, I feel compelled to correct a common misconception about Cinco de Mayo. It is not Mexico's independence day, as I first thought.

When I wished The Sailor a Happy Cinco de Mayo this morning,  I said, "Hey, what do we really celebrate on Cinco de Mayo?" Like any well-educated Americans seeking the truth, we consulted Wikipedia, which failed to provide any comprehensible answer.

The trusty source disappointed us with the answer, so we then tried http://www.history.com/, which says:

History of Cinco de Mayo: Battle of Puebla

In 1861 the liberal Mexican Benito Juárez (1806-1872) became president of a country in financial ruin, and he was forced to default on his debts to European governments. In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, ruled by Napoleon III (1808-1873), decided to use the opportunity to carve a dependent empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large French force and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat...
Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza's success at Puebla represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. Six years later—thanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States, which was finally in a position to aid its besieged neighbor after the end of the Civil War—France withdrew. 

A little more research brought up the Huffington Post article entitled, "Cinco de Mayo is a 100% American Celebration."


So, why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo here, when it's just like any other day in Mexico? -- In fact, it's not even a federal holiday.

"Caught between both conflicts, Mexicans in the United States incorporated news of the victory in Puebla to their own experience. Some of them had been living here since before the 1848 Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty ceded many northern states of Mexico to the U.S. Others were recent immigrants, who were seduced by the Gold Rush and American boomtimes." - Victoria Infante, Huffington Post

I'm celebrating the occasion by drinking a Skinny Girl margarita and painting my nails Fiesta pink. What are your plans?

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