If you’ve ever asked, “When is Cinco de Mayo“, you’re probably not doing so hot (or caliente) in Spanish class–“Cinco de Mayo” means “Fifth of May,” which is this Saturday!
So what is it? A lot of people think Cinco de Mayo is like the Fourth of July in the U.S. because of its name. However, Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican Independence Day (that’s actually September 16!). Cinco de Mayo, which is celebrated regionally in Mexico (as opposed to just about everywhere in the U.S.!), is actually dedicated to the victory of Mexican soldiers over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. This was a big deal because the French army outnumbered the Mexican army 2 to 1 and was considered the best army in the world at the time–they were under Napoleon’s leadership!
While the Mexican army’s victory was pretty short lived–the French went on to win the war a year later (but not for long), the Cinco de Mayo win gave the troops and country as a whole a huge morale boost and a ton of well-earned pride. It was also super important to America, too–if the Mexican army lost the battle of Puebla, it’s widely believed that the French would have gone on to help the Confederate army in the Civil War, which could have made things very different and very scary.
Today, most of Mexico doesn’t go nuts over Cinco de Mayo (do we celebrate the Battle of Ticonderoga every year? Right. Didn’t think so!). But because of the Civil War tie-ins–and the excuse to party–America loves to celebrate the occasion. Think about it: Nachos, Mariachi bands, an excuse to wear a sombrero, and warm spring weather? It’s the perfect recipe for an awesome time, which explains the parades, parties, and pinatas.
Bust out the guac and green, white, and red decorations and get ready to have a good time–but if you’re going out, be sure to drive safely! Bars celebrate Cinco de Mayo harder than anyone, and margaritas and motor vehicles do not mix.
Have you ever heard of anyone asking “When is Cinco de Mayo?” Have you ever been to a Cinco de Mayo party (or fiesta!)? What’s your favorite holiday? Tell us in the comments!