The history of Cinco de Mayo is so rich and full of outstanding action, we would like to take a moment to break the stereotypical celebrations of Coronas, margaritas, and tacos. Cinco de Mayo is one of the first holidays that originated in America that celebrated another country's culture. One of the misconceptions in the United States is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day although Mexico's Independence Day is September 16.
From the discovery of the North American continent to the growth and creation of countries, cultures, and livelihoods the whole western hemisphere was crammed with history and full of rough, transitional periods. Mexico was no different. From the U.S.-Mexico War of 1848 to their Reform (Civil War) in 1860 the country was going bankrupt. Mexico reached out to Spain, France, and Great Britain for loans. Unfortunately, even with financial funding Mexico was going through political struggles and was facing an economic crisis. The only option President Benito Juárez had was to order a temporary moratorium on all loans in 1861.
Spain, France, and Great Britain did not take lightly the stop payment and all three countries invaded Veracruz, Mexico demanding repayment. In April 1862 both Spain and Great Britain pulled out of Mexico through delegating, negotiating, and creating terms for repayment. France, however, kept pushing in farther. Napoleon III saw this as an opportunity to grow clear into the United States to claim land for France. The French goal was to create a Monarchy under Maximilian of Austria. On May 5, 1862, the mestizo and Zapotec people united to create a Mexican Army under General Ignacio Zaragoza to defeat the French Army in a David vs. Goliath showdown at the Battle of Puebla.
On May 27, 1862, the news of the French defeat in Puebla spread through the Mexicans and Latinx in Columbia, California who migrated during the Gold Rush. The first celebrations, in California, were done by shooting guns in the air, making speeches, and toasting while singing patriotic songs. The Mexican and Latinx in California came together to form the holiday honoring the Mexican Army and celebrating anti-Imperialism.
President Benito Juárez declared the
The battle of Cinco de Mayo a National Holiday on May 9, 1862. Sadly, it is no longer considered a National Holiday because the State of Puebla is the only place in Mexico that celebrates via reenacting the war alongside parades. In 1933 the 32nd U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed his "Good Neighbor Policy" to improve U.S. relationships with neighboring countries that invoked a wider celebration of Mexican-American culture. This one policy improved the awareness of Cinco de Mayo which birthed a widespread celebration, especially in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. Due to the 1980s commercialization of the holiday, most celebrate now through drinking as the alcohol industry hijacked the holiday as a way to peddle their products.
We would love to take time to celebrate the original idea of recognizing different cultures and the courage it takes to remain free. An Otter Milestone will remember and celebrate the beauty within the Mexican culture that was shared with America and the idea of being a good neighbor by respecting enriched customs. This year instead of having tacos for Cinco de Mayo, try the National dish from Puebla, mole poblano. You can click on the recipe and give it a try. It is a main dish where you can have a chocolate 'dessert' with the entrée!