What is Cinco de Mayo? You may be surprised! - WRBL

What is Cinco de Mayo? You may be surprised!

Posted: Updated:
AP Photo:  People take part in a recreation of the Battle of Puebla during "Cinco de Mayo" celebrations in Mexico City. AP Photo: People take part in a recreation of the Battle of Puebla during "Cinco de Mayo" celebrations in Mexico City.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

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.

Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez (1814-1892) set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a rag-tag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla. Led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza (1829-1862), the vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez drew his army, well provisioned and supported by heavy artillery, before the city of Puebla and led an assault from the north. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.

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. The same year, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed as emperor of Mexico by Napoleon in 1864, was captured and executed by Juárez's forces. Puebla de Los Angeles was renamed for General Zaragoza, who died of typhoid fever months after his historic triumph there.

 

Cinco de Mayo in Mexico

Within Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, where Zaragoza's unlikely triumph occurred, although other parts of the country also take part in the celebration. Traditions include military parades, recreations of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events. For many Mexicans, however, May 5 is a day like any other: It is not a federal holiday, so offices, banks and stores remain open.

 

Cinco de Mayo in the United States

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with substantial Mexican-American populations. Chicano activists raised awareness of the holiday in the 1960s, in part because they identified with the victory of indigenous Mexicans over European invaders during the Battle of Puebla. Today, revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano. Some of the largest festivals are held in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

 

Confusion with Mexican Independence Day

Many people outside Mexico mistakenly believe that Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican independence, which was declared more than 50 years before the Battle of Puebla. That event is commemorated on September 16, the anniversary of the revolutionary priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's famous "Grito de Dolores" ("Cry of Dolores"), a call to arms that amounted to a declaration of war against the Spanish colonial government in 1810.

  • NewsMore>>

  • SWAT team invades wrong house, Sarasota woman files lawsuit

    SWAT team invades wrong house, Sarasota woman files lawsuit

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 2:23 PM EDT2014-07-30 18:23:35 GMT
    Louise Goldsberry shows where she spotted the swat team before they entered her home Louise Goldsberry shows where she spotted the swat team before they entered her home
    In July 2013, Louise Goldsberry was washing dishes in her Sarasota apartment when she saw a camouflaged man with a large weapon outside her window.
    In July 2013, Louise Goldsberry was washing dishes in her Sarasota apartment when she saw a camouflaged man with a large weapon outside her window.
  • Pinellas Health Dept. warns of parasitic disease

    Pinellas Health Dept. warns of parasitic disease

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 2:12 PM EDT2014-07-30 18:12:18 GMT
    Wikimedia Commons photo credit Ukko.deWikimedia Commons photo credit Ukko.de
    The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is asking for the public's help to prevent the spread of Cryptosporidiosis, a disease that spreads easily in households, child-care settings and through swimming in contaminated water.
    The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is asking for the public's help to prevent the spread of Cryptosporidiosis, a disease that spreads easily in households, child-care settings and through swimming in contaminated water.
  • Florida's CFO: Insurance customers entitled to refunds

    Florida's CFO: Insurance customers entitled to refunds

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:37 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:37:47 GMT
    Consumers who bought insurance plans but could not use them in the early days of the Affordable Care Act rollout should be able to get a refund, Florida’s chief financial officer told News Channel 8. Some customers who signed up for plans and paid premiums didn’t initially receive ID cards or numbers from insurance company Florida Blue in early 2014.
    Consumers who bought insurance plans but could not use them in the early days of the Affordable Care Act rollout should be able to get a refund, Florida’s chief financial officer told News Channel 8. Some customers who signed up for plans and paid premiums didn’t initially receive ID cards or numbers from insurance company Florida Blue in early 2014.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 8 ways to save on groceries without coupons

    8 ways to save on groceries without coupons

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:07 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:07:49 GMT
    Wikimedia Commons photo by Eja2kWikimedia Commons photo by Eja2k
    ShopSmart magazine sent undercover shoppers through grocery store aisles and discovered plenty of ways to lower your grocery bill.
    ShopSmart magazine sent undercover shoppers through grocery store aisles and discovered plenty of ways to lower your grocery bill.
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:14:31 GMT
    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and TLC in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos.
    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and TLC in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos.
  • Couple's selfie photobombed by lightning bolt

    Couple's selfie photobombed by lightning bolt

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:56 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:56:28 GMT
    A couple vacationing in Mexico was almost hit by lightning, a few sources including Washington Post reported Tuesday.
    A couple vacationing in Mexico was almost hit by lightning, a few sources including Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.