>Cinco de Mayo. The 5th of May. While I enjoy a reason for a party, I have never been very sure as to why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated. For many years I was like most people, laboring under the false notion that Cinco de Mayo had something to do with Mexican Independence from the French. Oddly, enough I was close, but still mixed up.
If you don’t know, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla between Mexico and France in 1862. According to the brief research I’ve done, apparently, France had decided to invade Mexico because it couldn’t pay its debt. A David v. Golaith battle ensued at Puebla on the 5th of May. Now, why this particular battle became a beer guzzling burrito-fest still puzzles me, but I think I’ve found a few clues.
Being someone of Californio ancestry, I found this series of articles, Cinco de Mayo: the Real Story, intriguing. The author connects the outcome of the Civil War and the defeat of the French by Mexico. While that in and of itself fascinates me because I’m kind of a history nerd, what I found very interesting is that in another part of the series of articles, he credits the folks who would be my ancestors as basically creating the “holiday.”
I’m still not sure how the celebration continued for a hundred years before being taken up by the Chicano movement in the 50s & 60’s. I can see how some marketing person in the 1980s was struggling to find a win and came up with the idea to pair beer with a random little known cultural celebration, but the mystery of what kept Cinco de Mayo around until then eludes my research.
So, while you are sitting around the bar drinking whatever beer happens to be featured during happy hour, in between your chip covered in salsa, ponder why you are celebrating and how it came to be before the brain cells go all fuzzy.