Whilst people seem to be celebrating Cinco de Mayo in ever increasing numbers, few actually know what the day is all about. Many people wrongly believe that the 5th of May is a day of celebration of independence from Spain, this however is not the case.
The events of that fateful 5th of May occurred over 50 years after Mexico achieved independence from their Spanish conquerors. Cinco de Mayo in fact is the celebration of the Mexican victory over another European power, France.
With the Mexican-American war severely reducing the working capital of the country Mexico sought to borrow from other countries. Their debts, however, were greater than their ability to repay (does this sound familiar? Greece anyone?). When the powers of Europe came to collect Mexico attempted appeasement, but France did not take this well. France invaded Mexico later that year in 1862.
The 5th of May 1862 is celebrated because it marks a significant battle between the army of Napoleon III and a much smaller and less equipped group of Mexican soldiers near the town of Puebla. Against the odds, the Mexican soldiers defeated the French and protected the independence of the town. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the bravery of those men and the ideals that they fought so gallantly for.
With this history lesson in mind, why not enjoy a Mexican inspired feast this Cinco de Mayo, just make sure you know why you’re celebrating?
Here are a few of my Mexican inspired adventures:
For more information on Cinco de Mayo check out a great article (the reference used in this post) and one of my favourite podcasts/websites How Stuff Works