Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Ladies clad in traditional Mexican attire.

Every year, the 5th of May or Cinco de Mayo equates to lively festivities in the U.S. and various parts of the world, honoring the culture and heritage of Mexico. Thus, the day’s events comprise of all-things Mexican—tacos, mariachi bands, parades, piñatas, beer crawls, lots of margaritas and traditional folk dancing and costumes.

Unlike the 4th of July, when we celebrate America’s Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day (September 16).

So what exactly are we celebrating on May 5?

Brief Synopsis: The Significance of Cinco de Mayo

  • When Benito Juarez became President of Mexico in 1861, the country was in such financial distress that the government was unable to repay its debts to the British, Spanish and French governments.
  • To demand payment, these countries sent naval forces to Mexico. While Mexico was able to negotiate with Britain and Spain whose troops withdrew, France had other ideas.
  • Wanting to take advantage of Mexico’s financial vulnerability, during the later part of 1861, Napoleon III ordered French troops to head to President Juarez in Veracruz. The Mexican dignitary and his government officials left for the north.
  • Not too long afterwards, an army of 6,000 French troops were led by General Charles Latrille de Lorencez to Puebla de Los Angeles, a town in east-central Mexico.
  • Meanwhile, in his new location in the north, President Juarez rallied 2,000 men. General Ignacio Zaragoza led them to Puebla de Los Angeles.
  • Clearly outnumbered and with little provisions or weapons, General Zaragoza and his Mexican troops were the underdogs. Yet, they won that battle, which was fought on May 5, 1862. They lost nearly 100 men; the French, close to 500.
  • Cinco de Mayo is celebrated to commemorate Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of the Puebla, during the Franco-Mexican War (1861 to 1867).
  • While this victory didn’t exactly end the Franco-Mexican war, the win helped spur the resistance movement.
  • After the end of the Civil War, the U.S. was finally able to help Mexico. And President Juarez and his government overthrew Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been serving as emperor of Mexico since 1864.

That’s why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Interestingly enough, Cinco de Mayo is a regional celebration—mostly in Puebla, and isn’t a national holiday in Mexico.

For those commemorating this festive day, here’s an easy recipe to get you started—perfect to share with your amigos or amigas on the 5th, or any day that calls for something refreshing.

Tequila and margarita glasses.

Margaritas

Ingredients

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Ready in: 5 minutes
Yields 4

  • 1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 6 fluid ounces tequila
  • 2 fluid ounces triple sec

Directions

  • Fill blender with crushed ice.
  • Pour in limeade concentrate, tequila and triple sec.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Pour into glasses and serve.

Enjoy your cerveza.

Or if you’d rather just grab an ice-cold cerveza, that’s perfect, too. Enjoy!

How will you be celebrating tomorrow? Will you be attending the Mex Fest: Food Truck Festival at the Seaport? If so, perhaps we’ll run across each other in one of the lines for those Mexican-inspired treats.

Editorial Creatives wishes all of you a fun Cinco de Mayo.

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