Ok, I know that Cinco de Mayo is basically about getting hammered at your favorite Mexican restaurant and squirting lime in the eye of your best friend. But, Cinco de Mayo actually has a historical reason for being. No sh#t!
It’s often thought that’s Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day. Welp, it ain’t. That’s on Sept. 16th.
The reason behind the celebration is the unlikely victory of the Mexican army over the French Army (at the time the most powerful in the world) in the city of Puebla, Mexico on May 5th 1862.
Here is a quick breakdown of why the French and Mexicans were battling in Puebla on Cinco de Mayo:
- The string of wars mentioned above shattered the Mexican treasury and left it damn near bankrupt.
- On July 17, 1861 Mexican President Benito Juarez decreed that Mexico would not make any payments on its foreign debts for two full years.
- This royally pissed off the French, Spanish, and Brits. Spain and England were able to work it out diplomatically.
- But not Napoleon III! He shipped an Army out there to conquer Mexico for the French. The French Landed in Veracruz and began their march to Mexico City.
- The well-equipt French army of 8,000 soldiers ran into heavy resistance at the city of Puebla, Mexico.
- 4,000 Mexican soldiers were able to defeat 8,000 French soldiers at the battle of Puebla on May 5th 1862.
Major Significance of the Cinco de Mayo battle:
- Obviously, 4,000 guys beating 8,000 guys from the best, most well-equipt army in the world was huge.
- Napoleon III’s Army hadn’t been defeated for 50 years before Cinco de Mayo.
- Since the Cinco de Mayo battle in Puebla, no European army has ever invaded a country in the Americas.
After the Cinco de Mayo Battle:
The Mexicans crushed the best army in the world and they definitely had reason to celebrate. But, the celebration didn’t last long. The French regrouped, put an end to the Mexican army one year later, and established Emperor Maximilian I as the ruler of Mexico.
Endure, the French did not. Three years after taking over of Mexico, Maximilian was dead and the Mexicans regained control of their beloved country.
- The real reason the French were in Mexico may have been to gain a better position to aid the Confederate Army in the American Civil War.
“Some historians have argued that France’s real goal was to help break up the American Union, at the time in the midst of a civil war, by helping the southern Confederacy.” www.vivacincodemayo.org
“The Emperor of France ordered his generals to spend a few months taking on Mexico and then – using Mexico as a ‘base’ – help the Confederates win their war against the United States. What if they had succeded? The United States would never become the significant world power it is today…the Mexicans not only took their nation back, but influenced the outcome of the U.S. Civil War. - Dr. Donald W. Miles
More Random Info:
- Cinco de Mayo is much more celebrated in the US than it is in Mexico, with the exception of the city of Puebla in Mexico.
-It appears that Mexicans living in California during the American Civil War were the first to celebrate Cinco de May in the States.
- The French named Latin America. They named it that to create some congruency with the French so that the French could start getting into Latin America and begin reaping some profits.