Cinco de Mayo Meaning: History & Origin of Mexican Holiday 2018

It is almost that time of year again, as spring marches forward we are getting closer to Cinco De Mayo. In the United States, Cinco De Mayo (which translates to ‘the fifth of May’) is celebrated widely by consuming copious amounts of alcohol, specifically tequila. But in a larger sense, Mexican culture is also at the heart of most American celebrations on the fifth as we typically eat their famous foods, listen to their music, and even celebrate with famous dance moves from their country.
However, in Mexico, the day is celebrated by holding military parades and appreciating the services of military personnel. While both countries celebrate the holiday in different ways, the real story is incredibly inspiring.
The holiday was put in place to commemorate Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza, who led the countries army to an unlikely victory over the French war machine during the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Of course, was all brought on by the French occupation of Mexico during the aftermath of the Mexican/American War of 1846.
This event also occurred thanks to the Reform War, which was a civil war that had two opposing ideologies, liberals, and conservatives. The main issue was the separation of church and state as Mexico’s main religion (Roman Catholic) was becoming more and more involved in government affairs. This war crippled the Treasury department and left Mexico penniless.
Fast forward to 1861, when a large French fleet invaded Veracruz which forced the Mexican president and his cabinet to retreat. The main takeaway is that these battles involved a French army that had over 6,000 men while the Mexican army only had around 2,000. Strategically the Mexican army knew the terrain and had more heart than the French but the victories around Puebla and Mexican forts Loreto and Guadalupe gave the country a significant morale boost.
This was, in essence, a David-and-Goliath-style affair that had the most well-equipped army (the French) losing ground to a spirited Mexican army that was fighting to preserve their way of life. This set off a firestorm of patriotism in Mexico.
So, how did the United States fit into all of this? Well, the U.S. applied pressure to the French and at the time, France was attempting to avoid a full-scale war with Prussia and fend off the scrappy Mexican army, a war with America would have spread them too thin. France also would have notably sided with the Confederates during the American Civil War which could have changed the United States forever.
Mexico’s success would be short-lived here, as the French would continue to apply pressure on the Mexican army, leading to numerous French victories. The French went on to capture Mexico City and with the signing of the Treaty of Miramar, placed Maximilian I of Austria on the throne of Mexico as Emperor. In reality, Maximilian served as a puppet monarch of the second French empire, adhering to French interests and doing whatever they told him to do.
The Mexicans would not stay loyal to Maximilian for long, despite him genuinely wanting to help the country. Tensions began to rise between the United States and France due to the French actions in Mexico, and in order to avoid full-scale war between the two countries, Napoleon III decided to withdraw from Mexico.
This was, uh, not good news for Maximilian, as he was soon captured by Mexican loyalists and then executed.
Well, there you have it! Now you’re an expert on Cinco de Mayo and the history behind it. Now go impress your friends as you guzzle down some margaritas.

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Milton Elementary School In Louisiana Put On Lockdown
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