Cinco de Mayo isn’t just guac and tequila – it’s technically a holiday that celebrates the Mexican Army’s 1862 victory over France in the Battle of Puebla. The holiday is often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, which is actually on September 16th, and is much more widely celebrated in Mexico. Interestingly enough, Cinco de Mayo is only recognized in the town of Puebla, and does not have the same place in Mexican culture as it does in the USA. So, if it isn’t even celebrated in Mexico – how did it get all the way here?
Though it had been around LA for years due to immigrant influence, Cinco de Mayo was popularized by Chicano activists in the 1940’s and 1950’s, in large part because Chicanos identify with the indigenous Mexicans, such as former President Benito Juárez, defeating Europeans during that fateful battle in 1862. It began as a forum to celebrate the fact that a large group of indigenous people were actually able to hold back enemy forces when all odds were against them. Despite losing the next battle to the French, this battle was a hugely symbolic victory and acknowledged the power of community and homegrown strength.
These days, people are not only celebrating in the United States – parades and parties have popped up in Brasil, South Africa, Australia, and even The Netherlands! Normally, people fill the streets and Salsa dance with tequila in one hand and a sombrero in the other. You’re also likely to find some Mariachi music and tacos al pastor. Speaking of al pastor – this year, Cinco de Mayo also falls on Taco Tuesday! Remember that equation from middle school – algebra, tequila + tacos = enormous vibes? That equation is now highly applicable.
If you don’t have plans yet, head over to our Instagram page (@latvnetwork) at 6pm PST/9pm EST where LATV’s very own Bruno Seros-Ulloa will be mixing music, cocktails, and electric energy.
What’s your favorite part of Cinco de Mayo? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out WYKA (What you know about…) for more history you never knew you didn’t know!