Why Is Cinco de Mayo celebrated?: Cinco de Mayo pronounced as ˈsiŋko ðe ˈmaʝo; Spanish for “Fifth of May” is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza.
Why Is Cinco de Mayo celebrated today?
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. In the U.S. the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle continues to be mostly ceremonial, such as through military parades.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is sometimes mistaken for Mexico’s Independence Day the most important national holiday in Mexico which is celebrated on September 16, commemorating the Cry of Dolores that initiated the war of Mexican independence from Spain.
BATTLE OF PUEBLA (LEADING EVENTS)
Cinco de Mayo has its roots in the French occupation of Mexico, which took place in the aftermath of the Mexican vs American War of 1846 1848 and the 1858 1861 Reform War.
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The Reform War was a civil war which pitted Liberals who believed in the separation of church and state, and freedom of religion against the Conservatives who favored a tight bond between the Roman Catholic Church and the Mexican State.
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These wars nearly bankrupted the Mexican Treasury. On July 17, 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for two years.
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Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, at the time ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to establish an empire in Mexico that would favor French interests, the Second Mexican Empire.
Why Is Cinco de Mayo celebrated
The empire was part of an envisioned “Latin America” term used to imply cultural kinship of the region with France that would rebuild French influence in the American continent and exclude Anglophone American territories.
HISTORY OF CINCO DE MAYO IN THE UNITED STATES
According to a paper published by the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture about the origin of the observance of Cinco de Mayo in the United States, the modern American focus on that day first started in California in the 1860s in response to the resistance to French rule in Mexico.
“Far up in the gold country town of Columbia now Columbia State Park, Mexican miners were so overjoyed at the news that they spontaneously fired off rifle shots and fireworks, sang patriotic songs and made impromptu speeches.”
A 2007 UCLA Newsroom article notes that “the holiday, which has been celebrated in California continuously since 1863, is virtually ignored in Mexico.”
Why Is Cinco de Mayo celebrated?
TIME magazine reports that “Cinco de Mayo started to come into vogue in 1940s America during the rise of the Chicano Movement.”
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The holiday crossed over from California into the rest of the United States in the 1950s and 1960s but did not gain popularity until the 1980s when marketers, especially beer companies, capitalized on the celebratory nature of the day and began to promote it.
It grew in popularity and evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, first in areas with large Mexican-American populations, like Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and San Jose.
Why Is Cinco de Mayo celebrated in the US?
In a 1998 study in the Journal of American Culture, it was reported that there were more than 120 official US celebrations of Cinco de Mayo in 21 different states.
An update in 2006 found that the number of official Cinco de Mayo events was 150 or more, according to José Alamillo, a professor of ethnic studies at Washington State University in Pullman, who has studied the cultural impact of Cinco de Mayo north of the border.
Los Angeles’ Fiesta Broadway has been billed as the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the world, which it most certainly was at its peak in the 1990s when it attracted crowds of 500,000 or more. In recent years attendance has seen a dramatic decrease.
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On June 7, 2005, the United States Congress issued a concurrent resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
To celebrate, many display Cinco de Mayo banners while school districts hold special events to educate students about its historical significance.
Special events and celebrations highlight Mexican culture, especially in its music and regional dancing. Examples include baile folklórico and mariachi demonstrations held annually at the Plaza del Pueblo de Los Ángeles, near Olvera Street.
Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration, advertising Mexican products, and services, with an emphasis on alcoholic beverages, foods, and music.
On May 9, 1862, President Juárez declared that the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla would be a national holiday regarded as “Battle of Puebla Day” or “Battle of Cinco de Mayo”.
Today, the commemoration of the battle is not observed as a national holiday in Mexico i.e., not a statutory holiday. However, all public schools are closed nationwide in Mexico on May 5.
The day is an official holiday in the State of Puebla, where the Battle took place, and also a full holiday (no work) in the neighboring State of Veracruz.
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Parade participants dress as French and Mexican soldiers to reenact the battle.
Every year the city also hosts the Festival Internacional de Puebla, which gathers national and international artists, traditional musicians and dancers.
Why Is Cinco de Mayo celebrated
As well as the Festival Internacional del Mole, with an emphasis on the city’s iconic mole poblano.
In Mexico City, the military commemoration is occasionally held at the Campo Marte.
A street, Avenida Cinco de Mayo, in the Historic Center of Mexico City was named after the battle in 1862 by Benito Juárez.